Roundhouse Garden Buildings Inspired by Yurts

Rotunda Tiny House

Rotunda Living, a small home builder based in the United Kingdom, has designed some small, contemporary round houses inspired by nature’s shapes and elements. They look like the perfect backyard getaway to use as a studio, guest bedroom, pool house, or meditative escape space.

The design is similar to a yurt, but with solid walls. The plan is to use locally-sourced materials and a local supply chain to create quality, sustainable materials that will not sacrifice aesthetics. Each design uses natural, breathable, and efficient materials for insulation and construction, providing a healthy environment that inspires creativity in an atmosphere inspired by nature.

Rotunda Tiny House

If you’ve always wondered how closely you could incorporate nature into the design of a small home or room, these roundhouses offer an option that is pretty close. For more information on their designs and inspiration, visit

Rotunda Tiny House Interior

Images via Rotunda Living

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Continued here: Roundhouse Garden Buildings Inspired by Yurts

Empowerhome – The Sustainable Net-Zero Home of the Future

Empowerhome - The Sustainable Net-Zero Home of the Future

The Empowerhouse, a home that produces all of its own energy, has just been built in a Washington D.C. neighborhood. It was designed by students at the New School and Stevens Institute of Technology as part of a Solar Decathlon design competition, which partnered with the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development. This made one of the competition’s homes a reality for the first time ever.

This “net-zero” home consists of a bright, bold exterior, with an interior built out of recycled materials and receives plenty of natural light. The exterior contains stormwater management systems that help control heavy runoff impacting polluted rivers. Each unit has a terrace with a green roof and small agriculture plot, with a rain garden in the rear that captures rainwater escaping from the roof gardens. There is also an underground cistern that collects rainwater and uses it to water the property.

Empowerhome - The Sustainable Net-Zero Home of the Future

The parking space is made of permeable pavers, allowing stormwater to sink into the soil. It is also placed on D.C.’s first residential green street, which contains a trough full of dirt and plants that soak up street runoff and absorb oily pollutants.

Empowerhome - The Sustainable Net-Zero Home of the Future

The house is a shining example of how sustainable, affordable housing is possible, even in inner-city neighborhoods. Now that Habitat for Humanity is involved as well, it is likely that more of these homes will be popping up around the country.

Assemble Your Tiny Home Faster Than IKEA Furniture with AbleNook

AbleNook Mini Modular House Outdoors

Imagine that you could assemble your home in a matter of hours, as easily as you put together a desk that you bought from IKEA. Imagine that it dissembled more easily than the IKEA desk so that you could take it anywhere, even the harshest of environments.

More sturdy than a trailer, with a more beautiful architectural aesthetic, the AbleNook expandable portable dwelling is a tiny home design that is looking for your help to become a reality for disaster victims, military families, and lovers of sustainable living around the world.

The AbleNook concept shelter is billed as “a rapidly deployable portable structure” of interlocking components that can be put together without tools by just about anyone. Components arrive in a flat-pack box to reduce waste and transportation costs.

Team AbleNook began as part of a summer independent study project and has evolved into a desire to revolutionize dwelling manufacture, deployment, and inhabitation.

Supported by the University of South Florida’s Division of Patents and Licensing, they have filed for a patent on the technology and procured a grant to construct the prototype.

AbleNook Mini Houses Modular Home Solar Roof

Built out, the single module prototype is 20 feet long, 13 feet high, and has a 10 foot high ceiling. It packs into a 4x8x6 cube container.

Able Nook Mini Modular House

The AbleNook project, headed up by Sean Verdecia and Jason Ross, is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. As of this writing, they have received pledges totaling over 15% of their $60,000 goal. You can back this project with a $1 minimum pledge before Monday, February 4 at 2:52 p.m. EST.

AbleNook Mini Houses Modular Setup Details

AbleNook Mini Houses Details

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Altius Architecture’s Bala Park Island Cabin

This gorgeous Bala Park Island cabin designed by Altius Architecture is a 3-bedroom, 2,200 square foot seasonal home located near Lake Muskoka in Ontario, Canada. The home is separated into two sides, consisting of a public and open kitchen, dining and living areas, and a side with private bedrooms. The roof contains clerestory windows, offering views of the nearby ridge, and the Douglas Fir roof joists allow for a clean pattern across the ceiling on the ground floor.

Two of the first energy efficiency strategies put into place for the cabin were orientation and passive solar design. Since it is not intended for use during the cold winter months, the most important factor is to keep it cool in the summer and provide enough heat during the spring and fall to maintain a comfortable temperature.

A Contraflow Masonry Heater is used for heating, which burns over 90% efficiency with radiant heat on demand. Renewable materials and finishes are also used in the design, along with low energy lighting, a solar hot water system, non-toxic materials, and water-efficient appliances.

Additional information and photos are available at

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New Biological Concrete Absorbs CO2 and Provides Thermal Heat, Insulation

New Biological Concrete

Image via

A new type of concrete has been created by Spanish researchers for buildings in Mediterranean-like climates that encourages the natural, rapid growth of pigmented organisms within the concrete. It can be used as a facade that offers advantages such as reducing atmospheric CO2 and natural thermal comfort.

The concrete works great as a support for the growth and development of certain kinds of biological organisms such as microalgae, mosses, lichens, and fungi. The goal is to set it up so that the surface is covered in less than a year, and that the appearance will evolve over time, changing color according to the time of year and the dominating organisms.

The structure is made of 3 layers: a waterproofing layer, a biological layer that accumulates water, and a “discontinuous coating layer” with a reverse waterproof function. The final product absorbs CO2, provides a natural source of insulation, and captures solar heat.

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Modern Moop Coop for Hipster Chickens

If you want something more in a chicken coop, we know of a few stylish options.  Like Moop, for example, the Modern Coop for Design-Minded Chickens.  This is designed by prefab and architecture firm Nottoscale and includes four cantilevered nesting boxes, hinged side-panel walls for easy access, a redwood screen for ventilation, a removable tray for easy cleaning, predator-proof latches, extra-strength chicken wire, and custom watering accessories.  Moop is priced with one run ($600) or two runs ($800), and the water accessories sell for $95 each.

[+] More about Moop coop by San Francisco-based Nottoscale.

Credits: Nottoscale. 

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Paradigm Sustainable Prefab at Greenbuild

This is a prototype prefab — Paradigm — recently on display at Greenbuild 2012 in San Francisco, California.  The modular home was designed by Bogue Trondowski Architects and built by Seattle-based Method Homes.  The stunning little home of just under 700 square feet is eligible for 6 of 7 petals of Living Building Challenge and will also be certified LEED Platinum, according to Method Homes.

Paradigm has Insulfoam R-28 recyclable foam insulation, Thermafiber R-45 ceiling batt and wall insulation, Siga VOC- and formaldehyde-free tapes and membranes, local FSC-certified Western Red Cedar cladding and siding, a window wall by Western Window Systems, and Cascadia triple-glazed windows and doors, according to Method Homes.

The solar PV system is a 4 kW array by LG on Sun Modo’s solar racking rest with no roof penetrations, which is installed by American Solar.

Inside, Paradigm has WarmDim LED lighting by Juno Lighting Group, LG Hausys appliances (dishwasher, washer/dryer, 3-door french refrigerator, induction cooktop, and HVAC system), the Haiku ceiling fan by Big Ass fans, an ERV, a Panasonic WhisperGreen exhaust fan, and FSC non-formaldehyde cabinets by Urbanata.

The home can capture and recycle all of its own water with a Corgal galvanized steel water retention tank (5,000 gallons), Flotender’s greywater system, Infinity Drain, Axor bathroom and kitchen fixtures, and an EcoDry urine diverting toilet for composting systems.  The water supports a vegetable garden with Sunnyside Organic seedlings.

The prototype on display at Greenbuild is currently offered for sale at $249,000.*  But if you don’t get the prototype, Bogue Trondowski and Method are collaborating on a Paradigm Series of homes.

The Paradigm Series currently includes three designs with one-, two-, or three-bedroom layouts of between 656 and 1,868 square feet.  Pricing is yet to be determined but more detail will be forthcoming after Thanksgiving 2012.

*For more information about purchasing the Paradigm prototype contact Eva Otto at Infiniti Real Estate by phone 206-235-6925 or email

Credits: Method Homes / Bogue Trondowski Architects.

[+] More about the Paradigm Series of prefab from Method Homes.

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Modular Container Home Built in Boulder

There’s a container house in Nederland, Colorado, and soon there will be one in Boulder, too. It’s believed to be the first such project in Boulder, and showcases a design by M. Gerwing Architects for couple Mark Gelband and Courtney Loveman, according to a recent article on the Boulder Daily Camera. The design of the eco-friendly home was driven by the solar shade ordinance, a neighbor that wouldn’t help with the variance, and a challenging narrow building site (more detail here).

Located at 505 College Avenue, the 2,800 square foot home will have extensive windows, a cantilevered second-story master bedroom, and a solar array that stretches about 140 feet. The hope is to get close to net-zero energy on an annual basis.

The architect and owners met what sounds like a storm of opposition to the design, if you read the comments and quotes in this article on the Boulder Daily Camera. Colorado, as far as I’ve seen, is quite progressive, but this is a million-dollar neighborhood, so it’s kind of funny. Hello! There’s a new world of residential living that includes high-quality prefab, container homes, or modern architecture. I can’t wait to see this courageous home when complete. It’s coming together nicely.

[+] More about the Gelband Loveman Container House from the architect.

Credits: M. Gerwing Architects.

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LivingHomes Intros Low-Cost CK Prefabs

Santa Monica-based LivingHomes just announced the launch of three new designs — the CK4, CK5, and CK7 — based on the affordable C6 (also featured here), which made headline news earlier this year.  CK Series designs are available for the price of $145 per square foot, not including installation or foundation, which is quite reasonable considering what’s available: a LEED Platinum level environmental program, high-quality modular build, and modern design inspired by Ray Kappe, FAIA.

All CK4, CK5, and CK7 homes will be built by Cavco and available in most states.  The build takes about two months, and the installation can be done in a day, according to materials from LivingHomes.

The prefab homes will achieve most of the company’s Z6 Environmental Goals of Zero Energy, Zero Water, Zero Emissions, Zero Carbon, Zero Waste, and Zero Ignorance with things like: energy-efficient lighting and appliances, low-flow water fixtures, floor-to-ceiling glass, clerestory windows, light tubes, transom windows, sliding glass doors, cork floors, a wood ceiling, formaldehyde-free millwork, wood siding, real-time energy feedback, etc.

CK Series homes are available in several floor plans.  Generally, they range in size from 1,300 to 2,200 square feet and carry a price that starts from $200,000 – $320,000, depending on the model.

The first CK home has been sold and will be installed next year on a property in Bell Canyon, California.  It’s a CK7 model with two stories, three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and about 2,200 square feet.

[+] More about the new, low-cost CK Series by LivingHomes.

Credits: LivingHomes.

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The Newest MiniHome Prefab: 36 Bunkie

This is short notice, but readers near Toronto may be interested in knowing that the latest miniHome by Sustain Design Studio, the Bunkie 36, will be at the Fall Cottage Life Show this weekend from October 26-28, 2012, at the Toronto International Centre.  The 420 square-foot cabin starts in price from about $87,500 (well-equipped) and can be permitted as an accessory building in Canada.

Bunkie 36 has Energy Star appliances, LED and CFL lighting, cork floor, birch cabinets, baltic birch ply walls and ceiling, an engineered wood-frame construction, cladding of pre-finished pine and Douglas Fir, Marvin Integrity windows, and an upgraded insulation package (R33.5 floor, R25 walls, and R32 roof), etc.

[+] More about the Bunkie 36 miniHome by Sustain Design Studio.

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Original post: The Newest MiniHome Prefab: 36 Bunkie