As more and more people decide to downsize to a tiny home, it has become imperative that these homes be made as cold-proof as possible. The Quebec, Canada-based firm Minimaliste recently completed this luxury tiny home for a client, which is exactly that. Apart from being very well-insulated, it also features many other comforts usually reserved for larger houses.
The so-called Sakura home measures 380 sq ft (35 sq m) and was built on a gooseneck trailer. it features a living area, which can easily be converted into a dining room. This is done with the help of modular sofa pieces that can be moved around, and a coffee table that is designed to open up into a 22 by 60 inch (56 by 152 cm) dining table, which can seat up to four people. The home also features a large bedroom and a bathroom big enough for a tub.
The kitchen runs along two facing walls, and is equipped with a fridge and stove. The bedroom is in a loft, which is accessible via a storage staircase. There is additional storage under the bed, and there is a lot of headroom in this area. There is also a second loft which can be used as a sort of reading nook and provides access to the cedar roof deck, through a skylight.
The home is also equipped with a number of sustainable features such as a composting toilet, hydronic radiant heating in the floors, a Lunos air exchanger with a heat recovery system, and a three-level water filtration system. Water passing through this filter goes through a pressure regulator, a big sediments filter, a fine sediments filter, and lastly through a water sanitizer, so pretty much any kind of water can be filtered using it.
The Sakura is a luxury home with many add-ons, so the price tag reflects that, since it cost a whopping $102,000.
I don’t know about you, but living in a floating home has always appealed to me. And this floating tiny cabin prototype recently built by the Russian firm BIO Architects would fit the bill perfectly. They are calling it DD16 and it is designed for use in harsh climates, while it also operates off-the-grid.
The DD16 is a prefabricated cabin, which can be installed on water and on land. It is tiny, measuring just 172 sq ft (16 sq m) and includes a deck which measures 75 sq ft (7 sq m). It is designed to sit on pontoons that allow it to float, and can either be craned into position, or helicoptered in. The prototype is currently located on a lake near Moscow, and can be accessed via a rowboat.
The interior of the cabin features a lounge area, with a kitchenette and dining table, while the bedroom and bathroom are set off to the side of this main space. Heating is provided via a wood-burning stove. The frame of DD16 is made of laminated wood with milled ports, which help keep the overall weight down, as well as minimize the cold bridges and gaps. They used polyurethane foam for insulation, which also helped to decrease the weight. Composite aluminum sheets were used for exterior cladding, giving the cabin a seamless exterior surface.
Power is obtained via a solar power array, while water is drawn up from the lake and most likely filtered as well, though this information has not yet been shared. The cabin also features a composting toilet. The cabin has been installed on the lake since November last year, and the fact that it survived a Russian winter says a lot about its durability and its insulation performance.
DD16 is currently being rented out, while they continue to test its performance. There is no word on how much it might cost once it becomes available to the general public, but it does seem like a very good solution for those looking to build a cabin in an isolated area.
While concrete may not be a very sustainable material to work with when building houses, the newly completed MeMo House makes up for it in other green features. It is located in Buenos Aires, Argentina and was designed by the local firm Arquitectura.
The MeMo House measures a generous 2,314 sq ft (215 sq m), and is located on a narrow plot of land. It is a two story house, and the living room, dining room, and kitchen are located on the ground floor. The three bedroom and three bathrooms are located on the first floor, while the home also features a rooftop terrace and a spacious deck on the ground floor. The home has a green roof, as well as several greenery-filled areas throughout.
The walls inside the house are exposed concrete, which might not be ideal for everyone, but in the case of MeMo House it works, due to the ample amounts of greenery and natural wood. The rooms all feature large, floor-to-ceiling windows which let in plenty of natural daylight and allow for excellent cross ventilation. The borders between the indoor and outdoor spaces are also effectively blurred in this way. The windows are also fitted with large wooden shutters for when shade or privacy is needed.
While concrete may not be a very green building material, it does provide excellent thermal mass, so the home is quite energy efficient. The large windows ensure that all rooms in the house have enough light without needing to use electric lights. The home is also equipped with a rainwater collection system, and this water is used to irrigate the green areas of the home. A rooftop solar panel array harvests enough solar energy to lessen the home’s dependence on the grid considerably. The garden gate was made from leftover materials, while they made sure to compost all the biodegradable waste produced during construction.
One of the key components of living off-the-grid is an effective method of water filtration, and a team of researchers at the Swedish KTH Royal Institute of Technology has uncovered a simple and affordable way of doing that. They have developed a technique to filter water using wood fibers.
The main aim of this project is to provide clean water in refugee camps, though the method could easily be used in any setting where a green and off-grid water filtration is needed.
The team created a new material out of wood fibers and a positively-charged polymer, which binds bacteria to its surface. In this way, the bacteria in the water are removed and the water is purified. Another use for this new material is also prevention of infection, since it can be used in bandages and plasters.
However, the main aim of this project is providing an affordable and easy to use filter for a portable water purification system, which isn’t reliant on electricity. All that’s needed for it to do its job is gravity, which forces the water through it. The bacteria is removed from the water by the material, while the filter itself doesn’t cause any toxic chemicals to enter the water as is the case with many currently used on-site water filtration options.
The filter they created works on the basis of the positively-charged polymer attracting the negatively charged bacteria and viruses in the water. The bacteria which are stuck to the surface of the polymer in this way cannot get unstuck or reproduce, and they eventually die. No chemicals or antibacterial agents are used in this process, which also means that creating bacterial resistance is not an issue.
Disposal is also easy, since the wood filter can simply be burned once it is no longer effective.
Water is growing scarce in many regions of the world, which in turn leads to food scarcity as well. To combat this problem the Iranian firm BMDesign Studios has come up with an innovative concept for a new type of roof, which would effectively collect rainwater and funnel it to be used for various purposes.
The solution they’re proposing is a double-roof that has a bowl-shaped component, which is used for collecting rainwater. This design is also specially adapted to areas with low precipitation where the little water that falls also evaporates very quickly. The bowl-shaped roof is designed in a way that allows for even the tiniest quantities of rainwater to form bigger drops that can be successfully harvested before evaporating.
The main roof of the home atop which this concave part would sit is also slightly domed, meaning that during the sunniest part of the day only a small part of the roof is exposed to direct sunlight, while the airflow between the two parts is also increased, which keeps the interior of the house cooler. The bowl part of the roof also provides extra shade.
They are estimating that a school building fitted with 9,935 sq ft (923 sq m) of this type of roof would allow for the collection of 7,396 gallons (28 cubic m) of water. The water collected in this way would be stored in tanks placed between the walls of the building, which would have the added benefit of passively cooling the interior. In this way, a lot of the carbon footprint of using air-conditioning would be offset. They are also proposing the construction of several “wind towers”, which would be used to introduce fresh air into the buildings topped by these new roofs.
They are currently still working on perfecting their design with the aim of increasing the efficiency of water collection even further. Overall, it’s great to see architects using traditional methods and applying them when seeking modern solutions.