Mobile Tiny House With a View

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Atlas is a new tiny house creation made by F9 Productions of Longmont, Colorado. They describe it as a tiny house/RV hybrid. It offers a spectacular view, which makes it appear much more spacious, and can also be taken completely off the grid. As such it would make a great vacation cabin, home office, guesthouse, or even a full time home.

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The Atlas is not actually a shipping container home. It does, however, feature a tube steel frame, which makes it look a lot like it was made from a container. The interior measures 196 sq ft (18 sq m). The majority of this space is taken up by the main living area on the ground floor, while there is also a small lofted bedroom, which is just large enough to fit a queen-sized bed. The loft can be accessed by stairs, which have storage space integrated into them.

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The tiny home sits on a trailer, and has an estimated total weight of 7,500 lbs. (3,400 kg). The home also features wooden cladding and spray foam insulation, and has a large, covered porch, which acts as a comfortable semi-outdoor space and increases the living area of the house. In transit, the deck and lift-up awning can be folded shut.

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The home is equipped with a rooftop mounted 640-watt solar panel system that is connected to a battery array. This should be enough to take care of all power needs of the home, but there is also a backup generator and electric hookup that will keep it running in the event of prolonged bad weather. The tiny home also has a rainwater collection system on the roof, as well as grey water, black water, and fresh water tanks installed.

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The home is fitted with a fold-out couch, which is big enough to sleep two. There is also a kitchen equipped with a sink and induction cooker, refrigerator, pantry and a long countertop. The bathroom has a toilet and shower. Atlas is currently on sale for $75,000.

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Net-Zero Community Completed In Seattle

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With all the talk about the need for greater sustainability, it’s nice to things actually being done in that direction. Dwell Development has recently completed a small, sustainable home community called New Rainier Vista. This community is located in Seattle, WA and was created in collaboration with the architecture firm Julian Weber Architects. ‘

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The New Rainer Vista community is made up of 42 sustainable, green homes, which have the potential for net-zero living. They also boast of a very modern and unique design. The homes are set in clusters of four and arranged around a central garden, which is great for community building. The main aim of the developers in constructing this community was creating a space where a society of like-minded, sustainability-conscious individuals could come together and enjoy communal living.

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All the 42 units are designed in a way that allows for net-zero energy living. While they do not yet have solar panels installed, the rooftops of all the units are fully prepared for PV panels to be installed. The homes also feature double-framed walls, which offer great insulation, as well as triple-glazed windows. The units are also fitted with tankless water heaters and heat recovery ventilation systems. The community was built close to the train station to encourage car-less travel. The homes are also 5-Star Built Green certified.

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Two of the units are clad in cork, which is an interesting design choice, and adds to the insulation value, while another of the units is Net Energy Positive (HERS -1) certified. The latter is also the first net positive home in Seattle, and the first passive home built by Dwell. The homes also feature in-floor radiant heating, and are equipped with a keyless front door entry. All the flooring, tiling and countertops are made from recycled or reclaimed materials.

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The community took five years to construct, with the last home built and sold earlier this year.

DigiTruck Will Bring Schools to Africa

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Children in remote areas of Africa more often than not do not have access to schools, let alone ones that allow for learning digital literacy. The solution to this perhaps lies in the so-called DigiTruck, which is a solar-powered digital classroom, which is also mobile.

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The DigiTruck was built by placing a standard, 40-foot shipping container atop a trailer, and can operate completely off-the-grid. It is well insulated to keep out the heat, and has steel doors and bolted window shutters, which provide security. It is illuminated by LED lighting. The truck is also fitted with solar panels, which take care of all its power needs. Should the need arise, the truck can also be reconfigured and used as a mobile health center, a community training center, or even a cyber cafe.

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The DigiTruck is administered by the digital literacy non-profit organization Close the Gap, who partnered up with Arrow Electronics and Hoops of Hope, to make it a reality. A DigiTruck can fit up to 18 students at a time and is fully equipped with refurbished IT equipment, namely 20 laptops, an LED screen, a printer and two Internet routers.

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Local workers in Arusha, Tanzania, were contracted to build the DigiTruck, and it is currently located at the Tuleeni orphanage in the remote village of Rau in the Kilimanjaro Region of the country. The mobile classroom is currently a school for 80 orphans. For now it will stay at the orphanage, but it will be taken to a new location in the second part of 2016. The equipment it currently contains will be donated to the Tuleeni Orphanage, while the truck will be fitted with new IT equipment.

Plans to build more of these DigiTrucks for deployment all across rural Africa are already underway, and I hope they soon turn into reality.

Off-the-Grid Floating Home

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Living on a houseboat or floating home has always been a dream of mine, and this home, proposed in Germany, comes very close to what that dream home would look like. It’s beautiful to look at, and also completely self-sufficient, capable of creating its own power, water, and heat. The house is still in the planning stages, and is called the Lusation autartec project. The first prototype will be built on Lake Geierswalde in the Lusatian Lake District.

The two-story floating home will be built atop a steel pontoon measuring 43 x 43 ft (13 x 13 m). The ground floor of the home will measure 807 sq ft (75 sq m), while the first floor will have a living area of 365 sq ft (34 sq m). There will also be a 161 sq ft (15 sq m) deck running around the perimeter of the home. In order to make it self-sufficient they had to find innovative, and primarily light solutions to avoid loading the pontoon with excessive weight.

The heating needs will be taken care of via a fireplace, which will feature a supersaturated solution of salt hydrates to soak up heat from the flames. The designers claim that after this solution is heated in a special tub, which is placed over the fire, and liquefies, it is capable of holding in the heat practically indefinitely. The system works similarly to a chemical hand warmer, since the solution can be made to crystallize via a radio-based technology, which releases the heat on command. There is also a back up zeolith thermal storage unit, which is located inside the pontoon. During the summer, the zeolith minerals dry out, while in winter, by circulating moist air through the pontoons an exothermic reaction occurs which releases further heat.

The home will also feature a so-called adiabatic cooling system, which doesn’t require any energy and is based on the principle of evaporative cooling. Basically, moistening a side of the house will work to draw heat out as this moisture evaporates. All the needed power will be provided by solar panels built into the actual structure of the home. The energy produced will be stored in lithium polymer batteries hidden away inside the stairs.

The home will also be off-the-grid in terms of water needs. This will be achieved by means of a closed loop system. The biological reprocessing system will be based on ceramics, photocatalysis, electrochemistry, and filtration. The entire system will be small enough to fit into the pontoon, but robust enough to handle all the water purifying needs.

This is definitely an innovative approach to taking a home off the grid, and it will be interesting to see how well it performs in practice. The first of these homes will be completed in 2017, so we have a bit of a wait for an answer to that question.

Stools Made from Recycled Seaweed

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It’s always great to see waste recycled as something unique and useful, and that’s exactly what this project involves. When Carolin Pertsch, a designer from Germany learned that tons of seaweed were being dumped into landfills each year, she sought out to find a way to offset this problem. What she came up with is this stylish stool, which would not look out of place in any apartment, house or cabin. It’s also the perfect size for use in tiny homes.

The main reason why so much seagrass ends up in landfills is the preparation of beaches in the summer for tourist season. So each year the sea grass is swept up and thrown away, even though it is a very usable material and could easily be recycled.

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To make the stools, Carolin first collected enough seaweed of the Zostera Marina (also called eelgrass and seawrack) variety. The next step was to clean it and sort it according to the different colors, which range from almost black to a light brown. She then shredded the seaweed, placed it into moulds and added bio-resin to create the seats of the stools, which is about half and inch (1 cm) thick. The bio-resin is made of all natural ingredients, such as starch, water, vegetable oil and vinegar, and works great as a sort of glue to hold the seaweed together.

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By separating the seaweed by color before shredding it, she can now supply the stool in three different shades. The texture of the finished seat is a lot like cork. Form the images it seems normal plywood is used to build the legs. No word on whether she plans on making other types of chairs or even tables in this way, but I imagine it would be quite simple to do with just the use of appropriate moulds.

An Affordable Hobbit Home

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Ever dream of having your own home that resembled the hobbit houses as seen in the Lord of the Rings movies? If so you’re in luck, because the company Green Magic Homes has begun offering prefab modular “hobbit homes” which can be made according to the buyer’s wishes. And once the home is constructed, all you have to do is bury it and add a green roof and façade.

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The Green Magic Homes are made of individual fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) arches that are bolted together in much the same way as a waterslide is assembled. After the separate segments are joined they form watertight rooms, or modules, which can again be joined together to form the final layout of the home. It’s up to the buyer how they want to mix and match these modules.

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Once the home is assembled, it can be buried while the weight of the soil actually helps seal the sections together even tighter, and makes the structure stronger. Once they are buried, the green façade and roof also offer great insulation both in the summer and the winter.

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The latest model of the home is the so-called Wikiki, which is a 404-sq ft (37.5-sq m) home. It is ideal for use as a guest cottage, cabin, studio, home office or vacation space. The Wikiki can be assembled in three days by three workers who do not need any special skills or equipment to do so.

Every Green Magic Home comes with aluminum doors and windows, as well as fiber cement board components that are then connected to the FRP sections using nylon ties and finally sealed with an elastomer. There is also the possibility of adding conduits and ducts for plumbing and ventilation.

Prices are set at $1 per square foot, with a minimum price of $500.

Cute Cabin Brings Dwellers Closer to Nature

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I like spending as much time as I can outdoors, even if it is just sitting somewhere and writing, so I love house designs which minimize the separation between indoor and outdoor spaces. This tiny house, designed by cc-studio of Amsterdam is a great example of this. It’s called Thoreau’s Cabin, to honor American author Henry David Thoreau, and it is basically an off-the-grid shelter with a wood-burning stove and large sliding doors dominating most of its walls. This opens it up to the surrounding nature and it would make for a great cabin, home office or even a tiny home.

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Thoreau’s Cabin was built in a 5,900-acre (2,387-hectare) park in Utrecht, Netherlands, in place of an old cottage that stood there since the 1960s. The cabin is used mostly to store supplies used by park workers and volunteers, while it also offers a cozy and dry shelter for them.

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The cabin has an aluminum roof, while the exterior cladding is also made from this material. The interior walls are clad in natural wood. The cabin has a usable floor space of 452 sq ft (42 sq m). The majority of this is taken up by the living area, though there is also a kitchenette, a bedroom, and a laundry/storage room. There is no toilet or bathroom though.

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Thoreau’s Cabin functions completely off-the-grid. Water can be drawn from a nearby well, while running water in the kitchen is available via a small pump that draws it from a small tank in the kitchen cabinet. The wood-burning stove provides heating, while with the large sliding doors offer great ventilation in the summer. The cabin was built last year, and definitely represents a great way of erasing the line between indoor and outdoor spaces.

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Modular Home of the Future

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Ever wish you could just rearrange the rooms in your home? Well, Tetris House designed by Universe Architecture would allow you to do just that. The designers really took modular building to the next level with this one.

Just like the classic video game its name comes from, Tetris House is comprised of a series of blocks, which can be slotted together to create the desired layout of a home. Various accessories and add-ons can also be attached to the exterior façade of each home. Each Tetris House is built by placing the blocks (each of which contains a room) side by side, or one on top of another. This style of building is very reminiscent of shipping container architecture, though no containers were actually used.

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This method of constructing a home means that the residents have complete freedom in choosing the layout that works best for them. The blocks feature a steel structure, and come with strips on the façades that allow for the attachment of balconies, shutters, and such. While the architects envisioned the homes to stay as they are once they are constructed, the possibility to move the elements and re-stack them in a different order does exist, and can be done with relative ease by using a crane.

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A standard Tetris House measures 1,884 sq ft (175 sq m), though they can be made either bigger or smaller, due to the modular nature of the construction process. According to the architects, they will offer the units for a price below the average local price per square meter, since they are so simple to construct.

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The firm has finalized the design, and they are ready to produce and construct the first home. While they plan to make the homes self-sufficient as far as energy use goes, they have not yet gone into detail on exactly how they will achieve this.

Biogas Unit for the Home

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An Israeli startup has designed a biogas unit, which is small enough for personal use. It is capable of converting organic waste into gas and organic liquid fertilizer. The unit is called HomeBiogas device and looks pretty awesome.

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The HomeBiogas unit can produce 5 to 8 liters of fertilizers and sufficient gas for 2-4 hours of cooking per day. What’s more, the unit can also accept and convert dairy and meat, which is generally not recommended to be composted in the home. It can also take in 15 liters per day of animal manure, including pet waste, another substance not recommended for home composting.

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This unit is primarily aimed at the suburban homeowners market as well as small home, off-grid, and eco-living enthusiasts. According to the developers 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of food waste can on average yield roughly 7 cubic feet (200 liters) of gas. To put it in perspective, this is enough for cooking on a high flame for one hour. So a daily input of 13.2 lbs (6 kg) of organic waste yields enough gas for meal preparation, while it also allows the household to get rid of a ton of organic waste per year, which offsets about 6 tons of CO2 annually, which would have been generated otherwise.

A HomeBiogas unit measures 48”x65”x39.4” (123cm/165cm/100cm) and can easily fit in most backyards or greenhouses. It weighs about 88lbs (44kg) so it can be moved around without much trouble. According to the company, they are easy to operate, and require very little maintenance. Though, to use the biogas the units produce on a normal stove at least one of the burners needs to be converted to accept it.

The company is currently raising funds though a crowdfunding campaign, so that they can begin full scale production. Backers can get a unit for a pledge of $890, while the full retail price will be $1500.