Edge of Innovation

Five Eco-houses in Nature You Have to See

I’ve been looking at the amazing cube and tower rooms at the Qbe and SCUBE Park Hotels in Berlin for some time, though I haven’t had the chance to stay the night in one. European ecological housing trends really are something to envy — dozens of quality concepts for functional eco-homes are developed every year.

In reality, not every project gets built. A great exception to this rule is the recently-announced Ecocapsule house. The teardrop-shaped design of the Ecocapsule’s exterior is reminiscent of Chicago’s legendary Cloud Gate. Its dimensions are 2.55 х 4.45 х 4.5 meters, and it weighs a total of 1.5 metric tonnes. This makes the house easy to transport; it can even be delivered to hard-to-reach locations using a helicopter, for example.

In every other respect the Ecocapsule is self-contained, with a powerful built-in battery and a 750-W wind turbine for generating wind power, while the roof boasts 2.6 square meters of solar power cells. The building’s streamlined shape allows it to collect rain water, which passes through special filters in the process. The Ecocapsule can sleep two people relatively comfortably. In addition to a bed, occupants also have a working space, an integrated toilet and shower and a mini-kitchen with running water. Pre-orders for this autonomous house of the future will begin at the end of 2015.

A similar project was created by a dedicated New Zealander. The Skysphere, as he named his home, is a spacious tower ringed by glass with an internal staircase, which stands on a metal base. From the outside, the house appears to be a sphere made of several half-arches with built-in solar cells. The entrance isn’t opened with a key but with a fingerprint recognition scanner. Inside, the house boasts high-speed internet, a wireless sound system and stylish multicolored LED lighting. Its creator’s favorite part is the beer fridge built into the couch; cooling and dispensing beer is controlled using a smartphone.

Talking of concepts, one of the most eco-friendly options has been developed by Barcelona-based In-tenta Design. Their project is called the Cabin Drop XL. The house can be built in just about any location using only three types of materials: wood, steel connectors and glass. The cabin is constructed on a raised platform that doesn’t damage the grass or soil. From photographs, the inside appears quite comfortable, although the designers are keeping strategically silent on how the home will be heated and powered and how food will be prepared out in the wild.

Inventive Swiss employees at Nau Architects have come up with the idea of staying close to the city and building cozy eco-homes right on the roofs of existing city buildings. Sitting inside the futuristic Living Roof capsule, makes you feel like an astronaut, while you can also work comfortably in a calm environment or enjoy a romantic evening. It’s a shame that achieving something like this in Russia would be so difficult; building an extra house on the roof isn’t like asking for the keys to the attic from the housing office.

What’s more, even a conventional caravan can become something completely extraordinary, and unlike the previous examples, high-tech solutions aren’t required. The most important things are ingenuity and a unique way of looking at things. This was the case for French designer Benedetto Bufalino when he thought up the idea for a car with a built-in jacuzzi and his phonebooth aquarium. Another of Bufalino’s innovations is a caravan that he has installed on a unique mechanism. Using his device, the house may be lifted over 10 meters into the air. The result is a nice view from the windows, no break-ins and a guaranteed adrenaline rush for the owner as it ascends.

 

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