The Olive Tree House is a tiny summer cabin that was designed by Greek architect Eva Sopéoglou. It is located in Halkidiki, Greece and operates completely off the grid. As an interesting an unique design feature, it is also clad in metal, which is perforated with decorative shapes that cover the interior walls with dappled sunlight when closed.
The Olive Tree House has a floorspace of just 226 sq ft (21 sq m) and is located in an olive grove that overlooks the sea. It was also built in a way that allows for easy dismantling and reassembly should the need arise. It features a chestnut wood frame and has concrete foundations. The sloping roof is made of corrugated iron. All the metal seems a questionable choice given Greece’s hot climate, but the walls open all the way, providing great ventilation, and even when closed, the perforations still let air inside. The interior layout is also such that it provides a good cross draft.
The perforations and small jutting-out leaf pieces that cover the metal siding were created with a CNC punching machine and by hand, and took quite a long time to complete. But the end result is impressive and really sets this tiny home apart from others.
The entire cabin was prefabricated off-site, while the design also took into consideration the natural path of the sun on site so as to provide ample shading. To create more space, the living room extends to the outside. The house also features a kitchenette, while the bedroom is separated off from the rest of the space by storage closets. The bathroom features a composting toilet, sink and shower.
The Olive Tree House is completely independent of the grid. Electricity is provided via a solar panel array, and water comes from a tank. They have plans to also install a rainwater collection system in the future.
About three years ago, Norway’s Tourism Association held a competition for designing the best self-catering mountain lodges, which they could place on hiking trails across the country. The winning lodges were the so-called Skåpet Mountain Lodges designed by Koko Architects. These lodges are made up of a group of off-grid cabins, which require very little maintenance and can house up to 35 hikers. They also operate completely off-the-grid, and provide a secure and comfortably warm shelter even in the harshest conditions, which in Norway can get pretty harsh. The first of these Skåpet Mountain Lodges was recently built on a hiking trail in Rogaland.
The lodge is comprised of a main building, a sleeping area, and bathroom facilities that also include a wood-fired sauna and a storage room. The total floorspace of the complex measures 3,767 sq ft (350 sq m). The structures are clad in rolled zinc, and this material was chosen because of its durability. According to Koko Architects the cladding will not require any maintenance for decades, even in the harsh weather conditions of the mountainside. The interior is clad in unfinished natural wood, and the structures offer great views of the surrounding area. Furthermore, the separate modules needed to build the cabins were prefabricated, so the assembly was very quick and easy.
The lodge gets water from a lake located nearby, while they are heated by wood-burning stoves. There are also two gas-powered stoves for preparing food, while a solar power array provides the necessary electricity. The cabin operates on a trust system, meaning that visitors are expected to leave money to cover the costs of them staying there, as well as to clean up after themselves, and make sure there is enough food and firewood left for the next visitors.
The firm Big World Homes from Australia have designed a tiny modular home that is shipped flat-packed, and can be assembled by two people in just a couple of days using only a drill and a hammer. It will also be a lot cheaper than the alternatives. The project is still in the design stage, but if it ever sees the light of day, it would certainly be very well-received by those looking to buy their own home.
These flat-pack homes will also be pretty much self-sufficient, which will be achieved via solar panels for energy production, and a rain catchment system. This means that these homes will not need to be connected to existing infrastructure, so they can be built practically anywhere. The homes will be made out of structural-thermal-waterproof integrated panels, which will be easy to assemble together.
Unfortunately the full details of what the home will look like, or exactly what kind of sustainable features it will offer, have not yet been disclosed. Since they are marketing it as an off-grid home, then they will presumably have an efficient solar panel array and battery system, as well as some type of greywater recycling system in place. Most likely the homes will also have a composting toilet. These are, however, just my own speculations at this point.
The home is aimed at the target market of young people wishing to own their first home, and I agree with the designers that there is quite a gap in this segment of the market. They hope to bridge this gap with this home, and make it easier for young people to move out on their own.
The home will cost around $50,000 (65,000 AUD) to build, which is quite cheap compared to most other options on the market. They are currently raising funds to build the first prototype home through a crowdfunding campaign on Chuffed. They’ve not yet reached their goal, but do still have a few days left.
Michael Weekes, an inventor, engineer and author, recently designed and built a unique tiny home. The Life Pod, as he is calling it, can function completely off-the-grid, and is no larger than a trailer used to transport jet-skis. Apart from using it as a getaway cabin, tent alternative, or guesthouse, Weekes also thinks it would make a great homeless shelter or disaster relief housing. It can also easily be towed on the back of a car, and has a very aerodynamic shape.
The Life Pod is made up of two geodesic domes that are basically turned on their side and held together by a 10-sided cylinder. The home features a frame made out of wood, which is covered with TPO foam and Luan skin. The home has two porthole-like windows and a door, and weighs only 1,500 lbs (680 kg).
The home is 13.25 ft long by 8.25 ft wide (4 x 2.5 m), which is tiny but not overwhelmingly so. However, what truly sets this home apart from the competition is the range of comforts and features it offers. It has a well-sized shower, a sink, and a composting toilet, as well as a hot water tank. There is also a microwave oven in the food preparation area. The home also features two 300 W solar panels and a battery. This set up takes care of most of the electricity needs, though there is also an electrical hookup, which can be used when needed. The main living area features a double mattress.
After building the Life Pod prototype, Weekes took it on the road for four months to truly test it out. He towed it across 800 miles (1,287 km) then incorporated all he learned into the final design. The Life Pod is now for sale and the basic version costs $19,900. The solar-power add-on costs a further $2,900. All the Life Pods are custom built so the wait time for one is around 12 weeks. Weekes will also start soon selling a build-it-yourself kit with plans and a list of materials for $399.
Here is some great news for all Lord of the Rings fans. Kristie Wolfe, who’s already been featured here when she built her Hawaiian tree house, has now set out to build a Hobbit village, which will be located in Chelan, Washington. The village will consist of three Hobbit dwellings, which will all be off-grid. The first one has already been completed, while the rest will be done and available to rent by mid-2016.
The first Hobbit hole has a total floor space of 288 sq ft (26.7 sq m), and features a kitchen, living area, bedroom and bathroom. From the pictures it appears like something from The Lord of the Rings, or Hobbit movies, complete with low ceilings and circular doors. This home was designed as the home of a Hobbit carpenter and therefore features cordwood flooring, a woodworking bench and tools for whittling wood. The round door of the house was actually made from a cable spool.
The home is also completely off-the-grid, and the necessary power is supplied via three 100-watt solar panels, an inverter, and two 6-volt batteries. Water needs are taken care of by a water tower located nearby, and there is a septic tank for waste. There is also a grey water filtration system, which makes the shower bath water usable to water the grass. Heating is provided by a propane fireplace in the living room.
Since the home is buried, as all Hobbit homes are, Kristie face a number of challenges in making it sturdy. She achieved this by 2×6 studs on 12-inch centers and 3/4-inch marine plywood. The exterior of the house was wrapped with Certainteed ice guard and house wrap. To counter any water problems that might come from living underground they used a moisture guard insulation by Certainteed. In addition, they also installed a French drain around the perimeter of the home.
Kristie’s first Hobbit home is located on a 5.5 acre (2.2 hectare) plot of land and built into the mountainside. Visitors or renters will reach it through a gate in a wattle fence.
This first home will be available to rent in March 2016, while the other two Hobbit homes that will make up this village will be completed in mid-2106. There will also be a communal kitchen in the style of an English pub, as well as vegetable gardens and miniature ponies.