Metal and Glass House Deep in the Forest

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Living in a glass house isn’t always practical, and more often than not, it’s also not very sustainable. But this one, the so-called Hidden Pavilion recently built in a forest near Madrid, Spain, was designed in a way that renders most shortcomings of glass homes null and void.

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All the exterior walls of the Hidden Pavilion are made of glass, which was set into a steel frame. Since the home was built in the middle of a forest and is surrounded by tall trees, privacy is not an issue. The home was also designed and built in a way that did not require chopping down any of the trees. This includes a 200-year-old oak tree, while they also left gaps in the terraced areas of the home so that younger trees will be able to continue growing through them.

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The Hidden Pavilion measures 753 sq ft (70 sq m) and was designed by the firm Penelas Architects as a quiet countryside retreat. It has two floors, as well as a veranda on the second floor and a terrace on the roof. The interior is mostly finished in cherry wood. The first floor houses the bedroom, bathroom and a walk-in closet. The second floor, which is accessible via a spiral staircase, features a spacious kitchen and dining area, and opens onto the veranda, which cantilevers over a small waterfall. Another set of stairs leads to a spacious roof terrace.

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The chimney-like structures on the roof terrace are actually light tubes, which ensure that the interior gets sufficient natural light, since the home is well shaded by trees. The ample shading by the trees also ensures that the interior temperature is comfortable even in the hotter months of the year.

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Construction of the cabin began in 2010, but was put on hold for a while, and then finally completed in December 2016.

Tiny Attic Apartment with its Own Indoor Atrium

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Attics are often converted into small apartments, and this one, located in Moscow, Russia, is a great example of such renovation projects done right. It was designed and built by the firm Ruetemple, and they created a light-filled home that even has a small indoor garden of sorts, to make up for the lack of a balcony.

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The attic apartment measures 516 sq ft (48 sq m) and is cleverly partitioned so that all available space is utilized, while also offering privacy should the inhabitants desire it. As is the case in many spall space renovations, they installed a central, multi-purpose spatial element. In this case it is in the form of a white core, and it’s primarily used to separate the space into five distinct zones. These zones can be used for watching TV, enjoy an active pastime, dressing, sleeping and working. This core also features a floating meditation space, which is basically a glass walled cube complete with a living tree.

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This relaxation space is elevated off the ground, providing an area for storing the movable modules underneath it. These modules can be moved around the space as needed, and locked together to create a sitting area or sleeping space. The dining table, which can also serve as the worktable runs the length of the apartment, which is a nice solution when working with such a small space. The apartment features many skylights and windows, so it is always flooded with natural daylight.

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It appears that the small apartment does not have its own kitchen or bathroom, which are presumably located elsewhere in the house that this attic is attached to. Despite the lack, this is still a very aesthetic, comfortable and modern attic-into-home conversion that can serve as inspiration to designers everywhere.

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All in One Kitchen Unit

Looking for the perfect kitchen for your tiny home? Well look no further, because the Swiss firm Kitchoo has the perfect all-in-one solution. The kitchen units they offer are compact and small enough to fit into most any tiny house or apartment without sacrificing functionality.

Kitchoo is actually the Japanese word for “good omen” and these all-in-one kitchen units are exactly that for anyone wanting to downsize and still retain all the comforts of a larger dwelling. The basic Kitchoo unit features a sink, a two-burner induction stovetop, a compact dishwasher and cabinet space. The faucet can be pressed down allowing the two lids that cover the sink and stove to be lowered, which creates a good amount of counter space, or an eating surface. The drawers are all big enough to store plates, cups, dishes and utensils. And best of all, despite the superb functionality and offering everything you need from a kitchen, these units take up very little space. Also, by combining more than one unit, you can have yourself a fully mobile and fully functional kitchen.

Besides the basic model, they also offer several higher end versions, which have space for a fridge/freezer combo or a washing machine. The design of these units is also totally flexible, so any of the appliances you don’t need can be switched out and replaced by the ones you do. The unit also comes in a variety of finishes, including dark oak, light oak and white.

Prices start at $3,483 for the basic version and go up to $4,645. They’re currently only available in Europe and the Middle East, but the firm plans to make them available in North America soon.

Modern Rammed Earth Home

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Using earth to build a home has many sustainable advantages, while also keeping costs down. And a rammed earth home can also be very modern. The latter has been proven before, and now again by the Chinese design firm Hypersity. They drew inspiration from traditional cave houses of the Shanxi province and created a gorgeous home with curved walls and a very modern look.

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The home was designed for an Internet star who already had a cave house in the area and wanted to renovate it into a more modern version. The so-called “yáodòng” or cave houses have been built in this area for a long time, and they are still getting constructed. They are normally carved out of hillsides or dug from a pit that later acts as a central courtyard, and by some estimates 40 million people still live in them. The firm Hypersity began the renovation by first demolishing a part of the existing home to create space for a bigger courtyard, while also creating a rammed earth perimeter.

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The home is made up of several rammed earth volumes, which are connected by five outdoor courtyards that allow for great ventilation and let lots of natural light into the living space. The home features a lining area, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and storage rooms. These are located in the different volumes of the home, while the courtyards that connect them also act as a Chinese garden of sorts, letting more nature into the dwelling.

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The interior design of the rooms is very minimalist yet warm and cozy, which is primarily due to the use of natural materials and simple, functional furnishings. The living room, for example, features a barrel-vaulted ceiling, and is screened off from the rest of the home by a wooden partition. They also installed a so-called “light well” in the area between the bedroom and living room, which lets plenty of natural daylight into these rooms.

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The firm used locally sourced earth to construct this home, which brought down the costs considerably, but there is no word on how much the renovation costs. This project is a great example of how traditional architecture still has an important place in the modern world, especially one where promoting sustainable living is so important.

Interesting Shelter for Finland’s Downtrodden

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Providing adequate housing for those who can’t afford it should be a priority for all governments, and Finland has come up with an interesting solution to achieve this. A group of students was tasked with creating a prototype home, which could be used to house the homeless, students, refugees and all others who need a place to call home, even if just temporarily. The house they designed is called Kokoon and it is a prefab home that can be assembled in a single day.

Kokoon is built using just three prefabricated modules, which are very similar n size and weight and can be stacked one on top of the other using a crane. The modules are then secured into place and the final step in the construction involves adding a layer of sealant. The exterior cladding is made of spruce, while the frame and all the fixed interior furnishings are made of laminated veneer lumber (LVL). The interior is clad in natural wood, which gives the home a simple and clean aesthetic.

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The interior floorspace measures 376 sq ft (35 sq m) and is divided up into a kitchen, dining area, bathroom, and bedroom. The separation of the living space occurs over three floors, so the occupants are also afforded some privacy should they desire it. Stairs connect the three floors and large skylights let in plenty of natural daylight. The home is insulated using cellulose fiber insulation, while it also features floor heating. There is also a hot water heater and the home gets its water and electricity from the grid.

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Kokoon was designed by the so-called Wood Program Studio at Aalto University School of Arts Design and Architecture, and is intended to be used for up to one year while the occupants search for a more permanent housing solution. At this time this is only a student project, and therefore still in the concept stage, though it looks like a very promising affordable housing solution. The prototype is currently on display at the Museum of Finnish Architecture where it can be viewed for free.