20 November, 2015
Check out these comfortable, compact and considerate abodes that use design hacks to create the perfect living space

These clever casas make use of intelligent design to maximise nature’s gifts, and perfectly showcase society’s move toward simplicity. Exceptional, forward-thinking architecture is combined with eco-friendly materials, demonstrating different methods to make the most of a living space, while also saving the planet’s resources. The homes – ranging from tiny to sizeable – are made of anything from sustainably harvested wood to recycled aluminium and even upcycled shipping containers, and incorporate innovative solutions, such as renewable energy systems, ventilators, and water conservation systems.
Designed by: Blue Forest
Location: Available worldwide
Size: 48 sq m
This housing unit is so mobile that it can either nestle at ground level or even perch in a tree. It can fit up to four people, and the interior can be personalised according to your taste – with possibilities ranging from a work office configuration to unique, cosy accommodation. The main living area features a double bed, sofa, breakfast bar and kitchenette including a hob, oven and fridge. It also has a 7 sq m external veranda where you can relax outdoors while still being shielded from the elements. There are many optional add-ons, including telephone lines, sliding doors or off-grid renewable energy systems such as a rainwater harvesting system and photovoltaic solar system. You can even have a green roof fitted on your EcoPerch if you want. All in all, EcoPerch allows you to live comfortably and harmoniously in nature.
Designed by: Walter Scott Perry and Jack Parsons, Ecotech
Location: USA
Area: 230 sq m
This repurposed container home is located in the harsh conditions of the Mojave Desert, California. The residence is composed of recycled cargo containers and features one bedroom, a bathroom, a living room and dining room. It employs many energy conservation methods to optimise the use of electricity, water and cooling systems. The exterior is constructed with recycled steel frames that can withstand an earthquake, fire and strong wind. The frame also has a perforated shade system that reduces solar heat, glare and wind reduction by 50 per cent. Energy for electricity and water heating is generated via a solar breezeway feature. Greywater is collected and used to water the native desert plants on the roof, which also help to soak up heat, dust and CO2 in the surroundings.
Designed by: Nice Architects
Location: Available worldwide
Size: 11 sq m
Experience the spirit of freedom with  the  Ecocapsule.  This small portable house is undeniably unique! It houses two adults comfortably in the 11 sq m space by maximising the usage of every single centimetre. Furnishings are adapted to accommodate the smaller space, such as a foldaway bed, among other features. Rainwater collectors with built-in water filters provide the toilet, shower and kitchenette with clean water, and two windows enable sufficient air to circulate and ventilate the house. The Ecocapsule is also kitted out with 2.6 sq m of high-efficiency solar cells and even a 750Kwh wind turbine. A high-capacity battery works with these to store power for when solar or wind activity is low.
Designed by: James & Mau
Location: Chile
Area: 160 sq m
This stunning house is made out of three recycled shipping containers. It achieves 70 per cent energy autonomy through use of renewables and efficient design particulars, such as natural ventilation. The first floor is split into two parts, and thermo glass panels support the structure of the second level. This level adds an extra 70 sq m to the overall area, and also enables natural light to illuminate the interior without energy burn. The exterior is covered with ventilated solar panels, as well as wood panels sourced from sustainable forests and recycled mobile pallets that deflect both heat and cold from outside. The entire house is 85 per cent made up of eco-friendly materials including recycled cellulose, insulation and aluminium.
Designed by: Simon Dale
Location: Wales, United Kingdom
Area: 14.4 sq m
This charming house is a dream come true for Lord of the Rings fans. Designed and constructed by Simon Dale, the enchanting residence currently houses a family of four. It took Simon four months to build it, armed with a chisel, chainsaw and hammer. The furniture and materials used to build the house are recycled, second-hand items from a rubbish dump, including the windows, burners, wiring and so on. Reclaimed and spare wood from the surrounding woodland was used for the oak frame and floor. Surrounded by forest, the house is covered with a layer of earth that provides insulation. Hobbit House is also fitted with solar panels, and water is mainly collected from nearby springs.
Designed by: Studio H:T
Location: USA
Area: 151 sq m
Brad Tomecek, the designer and owner of this compact home, started this project with the intent of both reducing his family’s home size whilst also being more environmentally considerate. It’s made up of two shipping containers that house two bedrooms, one shared bathroom, a kitchen, laundry room and an office. He’s even managed to squeeze in a dining and living room with an extended deck that features an excellent view of Colorado’s mountains. The main electric supply comes from the  photovoltaic  solar  panels  on the roof, where there’s also a green roof feature that helps absorb rainwater and snowmelt for household use.
Designed by: Stephen Turner, SPUD and PAD
Location: United Kingdom
Size: 21.6 sq m
This is more than a tiny home. It’s an important piece of statement art. Its unique shape and interior design lends aesthetic beauty, and is also functional – enabling extreme mobility,  to the point where it  was   for a time spotted floating on the River Beaulieu! Artist Stephen Turner came up with this idea as a means of exploring the relationship of the environment to the narratives of human activity. The egg was also built to demonstrate how a life with minimal impact on your surroundings is possible. Its solar panels provide three days of energy, and a large glass roof provides ample natural lighting. What’s more, the Exbury Egg is also an educational engagement programme for people to learn about architecture, the environment and sustainability.
Designed by: OPA: Laertis Antonios Ando Vassiliou and Pantelis Kampouropoulos
Location: Greece
Area: 180 sq m
This design – which at the time of press was still in concept stage – sees a residence built directly into the cliffside beside the Aegean Sea, and comes complete with a rooftop swimming pool! The  entrance is at ground level, and 50 stairs lead down to the open living area with bucketloads of natural light shining through the glass roof and wall. The masterminds behind this (literally) groundbreaking design are two Greek architects that aim to achieve symbiosis between architecture and the environment. The house minimises the use of construction materials since it is built directly into the cliff, and where necessary makes use of sustainable wood, reinforced glass, and the surroundings. Furniture and decorations are kept to a minimum, as the star attraction is the design, and of course mother nature.

By: Kathy Yin


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