The so-called Cliff Haven is a home that was built into a cliff in Utah, back in the mid 1980s. Located in the picturesque Montezuma Canyon, it is entirely self-sufficient and can function completely off-the-grid. They are currently selling it in a closed auction, and while they’re promoting it as the perfect place to hide away from the world, it is also a great example of innovative and sustainable architecture.
Cliff Haven has a total floorspace of 2,100 sq ft (195 sq m) and has more than nine rooms. It features three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a lounge, kitchen and dining area, as well as a large outdoor deck. There is also a separate two-car garage, which measures 900-sq ft (83-sq m). The home also features ample glazing throughout, which lets in plenty of natural daylight and aids ventilation. Cliff Haven is being sold together with 12 acres (4.85 hectares) of land on which it stands.
To make it entirely self-sufficient, the home features quite a few innovative solutions. There is a tunnel behind the home that allows water runoff to escape, as well as circulating cool air. The tunnel can also be used as a fire escape. The home also has its own well, as well as a grove of apple, cherry, peach and other trees, which supply all the needed fruits. There is also a vineyard.
Rainwater is collected and stored in two 2,000-gallon (7,570-l) tanks and used by the household, and to irrigate the garden. The home gets its power via a solar power array and battery system, though there is also a diesel generator as backup. The home also has and Internet and phone connections.
There are many ways you can obtain a tiny home if you are looking to downsize. You can either commission a firm for a custom-built one, purchase an already constructed one, or build it yourself, whether from scratch or inside a repurposed shipping container, for example. There have been some awesome school bus and van conversions seen lately too. There are also prefab tiny homes, and a great addition to the already existing lineup is the so-called ARK Shelter, which was designed and built by a Holland-based company.
ARK Shelters actually range in size from tiny to normal sized homes, since the modules out of which they are constructed can be assembled together to form larger dwellings. The modules also come in various sizes, with the largest one measuring 300 sq ft (28 sq m). The exterior is clad in wood and painted black, which gives the home a timeless, classic aesthetic. The interior walls are paneled with cross-laminated timber plates that give the home a cozy, warm feel.
The modules also feature large, floor-to-ceiling windows, which let in plenty of natural daylight, aiding ventilation and making the home appear much more spacious when opting for the smallest module. All the windows also have shutters to provide the needed privacy. The modules feature a well-sized kitchen and bathroom, while different layouts and configurations are also possible.
The ARK shelter is also very well insulated and a circular woodstove is used for heating. There is also the option of having additional electrical heating, which can be powered by wind turbines or a solar panel array. The firm also offers the option of installing a rooftop rainwater collection and filtration system. The modules do not require any sort of foundations, so they can be placed virtually anywhere.
The ARK Shelters come fitted with all the custom-designed furniture, the woodstove and a mattress. Given all the features, one would expect the price to be high, but they are selling the basic model for $59,000, which is comparable to most of the other offerings on the market today.
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.
It’s always great to see green tech used to better the world. The so-called Dominican Light Project has set out to provide a source of light in the form of solar power lanterns to the poor in the Dominican Republic for only $5 per person.
The area where they intend to launch these lanterns is prone to frequent blackouts, so people are forced to burn harmful kerosene, and inhale candle smoke to be able to see. Even a single solar lantern can light up an entire home, giving children more time to do schoolwork, and extend the time in which adults can perform the necessary domestic tasks. Charging the lamp for 6-8 hours will provide about 12 hours of bright, LED light. The lamp itself also has a very robust design, which means it should last for quite a while.
Candles and kerosene lanterns are the main source of lighting in this area, which leads to a lot of fires, and creates a lot of indoor air pollution. They also cost about 25% of an average working class person’s wage. Which is why the Dominican Light Project was started. They are currently trying to raise funds through crowdfunding campaign, to be able to provide solar lanterns to the community.
They have set quite a high goal, since an estimate $25 million would be needed to light up the entire Dominican Republic with solar lanterns. However, they have set their Indiegogo campaign goal much lower at $10,000, which will cover the costs of providing the lanterns to about 2500 families. There are no perks for backers, except the knowledge that they are doing something good for humanity, so I hope they meet their goal. The donations start at $25, which I think is a bit too high, but they are currently quite close to the goal.
How would you like to wake up with the view of an active volcano out your bedroom window? Residents of the so-called Phoenix House in Hawaii can. The home was designed by the firm ArtisTree and can operate off the grid. It’s also available for rent.
Phoenix House is located on a lava field Kalapana, which is near the base of the active Mauna Loa volcano. There are other homes in this area, so it is considered a safe place to live. But the tiny home is very close to red hot flowing lava, while there is also a 100 ft (30 m)-high lava waterfall which crashes directly into the sea nearby.
Phoenix House has a total floorspace of 450 sq ft (41 sq m) and is not towable, as most tiny homes we see are. The home is clad in wood, which was preserved using the traditional Japanese method called Sho Sugi Ban, and recycled corrugated iron. The home is raised off the ground by stilts and has ample glazing, which lets the residents enjoy the spectacular view.
The home’s layout makes the most of the available space inside, so the tiny house appears quite spacious and comfortable. There is a reasonably large living area, with a sofa and a small desk. Next to it is a kitchenette which features a propane-powered stove, fridge, a fairly large counter and a sink. Further down from the kitchenette is the bathroom, which is fitted with a sink, shower and what is most likely a composting toilet, since the home operates independently of the grid. The bedroom is located in a loft which is accessible via a wooden ladder. There is space enough for a queen sized bed, the amount of headroom is very generous.
Electricity for the home is provided via a roof-top mounted solar power array, while there is also a rainwater collection system. Hot water is provided via an on-demand propane water heater.