Off-the-grid mountain cabins in Norway. Image credit: Inhabitat
Living off the grid has become an increasingly appealing option for those eager to ease their impact on the environment and avoid consumerist thinking. Still, many still associate this lifestyle with the idea of an old run-down cabin in the woods. Truth is though, even off-the-grid homes can be beautiful and contemporary, or at least extraordinary in design.
The sustainable homes below are both sanctuaries from the outside world and intriguing escapes. Modern materials have allowed these properties to be adapted to their surroundings and innovative systems allow these homes to run as if they were in the heart of a city.
The Island Home: New Zealand
This seaside cabin, which sits on an island off the coast of Auckland, operates off the electricity grid and is a space designed for communal dining and sleeping. Two rectangular ceder-clad pavilions make up the space and wooded fires heat the dining area. Movable wall-sized glass panels adjust light and flow of the property and the natural cladding allow for appropriate weathering and an organic feel.
The Stamp House: Queensland
This obtuse concrete structure was designed by Charles Wright Architects in Queensland. The home is built to withstand powerful tropical cyclones, a frequent natural hazard in the area. The Stamp House has been built with large solar paneling systems that provide electricity for the property and the 250 000-litre water system allows for rain water harvesting and grey-water recycling technologies for residents.
Icelandic Living: Norway
These prefabricated mountain cabins were built for the surrounding ‘trekkers’. The cabins were designed by KOKO Architects and are powered by solar energy, gas and wood burners. Designed to cater for commuters on the mountain, the cabins are paid for and invoiced independently by the guests via a drop-off box system. Their philosophy is based upon tenants treating the cabins like home and passing it onto the next pack of lodgers in exactly the same way they were found.
A Modern Farmhouse: Melbourne
Architects Brown and Lai Cheong built this off-the-grid farmhouse as a holiday home for Brown’s family on an undeveloped island off the coast of Melbourne. The property is solar powered, harvests its own rainwater, is heated by a wood fire, and a worm-farm sewage system treats waste on-site. The double-volumed 2 000 square-foot premises took time to build and materials were transported to the site via a ferry. Despite all the environmentally conscious attributes to this farmhouse, touches of luxury are still present inside, like hanging Tom Dixon pendant lights, for example.
SaLo House: Panama
Architect Patrick Dillon built this off-the-grid home in Panama over a five-year period. A surfer who longed for a seaside refuge, he began building on a forested hillside using lightweight materials (transported via boat and horseback) and recycled pine for flooring. An open-aired cistern filled with captured rainwater was built in the beginning of this development to help revive the land’s natural ecosystem. The water is used to clean the kitchen and for the bathrooms and it also functions as a pool and natural attraction for its surrounding inhabitants.
Island Paradise: Ibiza
A 200-year-old Spanish farmhouse was brought back to life in Ibiza. The property is self-sustaining – water is pumped from a private well and electricity is sourced from the solar panels. Traits of the old farmhouse are visible in the exposed brick walls and large wooden beams. This white home is very different to what we see in many off-the-grid spaces, as old charm has been incorporated into a sustainable build.
The Safe House: New Zealand
Very few will be able to locate this seaside home hidden among the hills on the shores of New Zealand. The property was built using the rock available on site and a water harvesting system was put in place. This remote home is available for rent, ideal for large groups in need of a secluded escape. You’ll have access to your own private cove and views that will leave a lasting memory. Below is a short video of the faraway property:
Draw sustainable solutions from a green Joburg-based home in our October issue