Sustainable & Offgrid

Home Architecture Sustainable & Offgrid

This Family Built A 100% Sustainable Floating Offgrid Eco-Fortress

Growing up, most of us had a friend whose parents owned an impressive house, but I guarantee none of us had a friend with a place like this. Owned by Catherine King and Wayne Adams, this eco-fortress of sorts can be found floating off the coastal inlet of Cypress Bay in British Columbia.


They call it “Freedom Cove” and the colorful offgrid home consists of a series of 12 structures. They share the place with their two children, Eleanor and Alistair, and seem to have a great system in place that has allowed them to live a self-sustainable existence for 20+ years.


There’s a greenhouse and garden system that provides food year-round. At one point they even had a hen-house, but were discouraged by the frequent attacks by hungry sea creatures. The family takes advantage of the heavy rain during the winter to collect water, and uses a waterfall nearby in the summer. Electricity comes courtesy solar panels and photovoltaic generators.



A wooden walkway connects each of the unique structures and the bright pinks and blues accenting the entire layout do more than hint at the couple’s artistic skills.


The couple earns extra income from their art – Catherine is a painter, writer, and wood carver, and Wayne sells carvings and candles in nearby gift shops.



Below you can see the workshop where Wayne does most of his carving, along with some close-ups of the finished candles.

6 10

If you’re in the area and want to check this place out, your in luck because curious visitors can take a boat tours of Freedom Cove or a sea kayak tour to get a personal tour.. In fact, they encourage visitors to spend time on the fortress.

This certainly has to be one of the most impressive offgrid homes we’ve seen. While the lifestyle isn’t for everyone, those looking for inspiration to escape mainstream society and forge a life of their own can find inspiration in their story.

Thanks to

This Hemp Winery Is About As “Green” As It Gets

Château Maris considers itself to be the ‘greenest’ winery in all of France. Not only is it sustainable and biodynamic, but its cellar walls are made almost entirely of organic lime and compressed hemp blocks that naturally insulate and breath, allowing the winery to stay at the optimal temperature year round without the use of active heating and cooling systems.


green-roog hemp

I’ll try and stay far away from any poor attempts at weed puns (as hard as that may be) so as not to detract from the truly remarkable application of everyone’s favorite herb. Of coure, hemp comes from the fibrous stems and branches of the marijuana plant and not the female “cannabis sativa” we know from recreational use. Hemp has many practical applications, none more impressing then using it to create this biodynamic wall system.



After considering other organic wall materials such as stone and straw bail, hemp was picked because it is inexpensive and lightweight, making shipping and building with much easier. The Château is currently in the process of a LEED Platinum certification, and boasts other sustainable features such as using recycled bottles and paper for labeling, and donating a percentage of sales to eco-friendly organizations. Find more about Château Maris here.

Three College Kids Built This Affordable, Sustainable ‘Dogbox’

One wouldn’t think so by looking at it, but this beautiful example of sustainable, affordable design was the brain child of three ambitious architecture grad students. New Zealand natives Ben Mitchell-Anyon, Sally Ogle and Tim Gittos started the venture with the goal of gaining real-life building experience as their education came to a close. I’d say they passed with flying colors.



They worked hard to find an affordable site to build the house, but finding cheap land had a catch – it was at the top of a steep hill. With the help of some dedicated and gracious friends, they were forced to hand carry all materials up the hill in order to get them to the building site. Hands on experience, indeed.

patch-work-dogbox-ldk1 patch-work-dogbox-ldk3 patch-work-dogbox-verandah2 patch-work-dogbox-exterior2 patch-work-dogbox-exterior5

The house itself uses affordable, locally sourced materials and off-the-shelf components in order to remain cost-effective. For example, guard rails are made up of common chain link fence, and gives the home a bargain bin, yet contemporary aesthetic. Most of the finished materials such as the concrete and plywood were left raw, saving construction time and money, as well as reinforcing the industrial-chic framework.

This Dome-Shaped Solar Home Floats on Water And Is 98% Recyclable

A fully recyclable home that has the potential for self-sufficiency, environmental and functional adaptability, and out of this world curb appeal was the dream that eventually gave way to the Waternest 100. Designed by London-based EcoFloLife in collaboration with Giancarlo Zema Design Group, this dome-shaped structure can be configured as an office, home, restaurant or exhibition space and is entirely powered by solar panels that are smartly integrated into the convex roof.

The generous 1,000 square foot allow for a multitude of interior uses while never feeling cramped or starved for space. This particular model of a housing application has a kitchen, living and dining areas, two bedrooms and a full bath. A simplified version of the design could even be mass-produced and deployed as relief shelters. When the life-span of the home comes to an end, the materials used for construction are 98% recyclable, making the home as fundamentally eco-friendly as it looks.

Step Inside This Offgrid Cabin And Enter Another Dimension Of Design

The entryway to the "Tuba Cube" was made using pine shavings.

If you happened upon this little cabin while trekking through the woods, at first you might think it was some sort of portal to another dimension. Located in Bergen, Norway, this interesting abode is the result of a design-build workshop at the School of Architecture. Their aim was to build a unique all-wood cabin using a mixture of techniques borrowed from places like Japan and Norway. While the front door looks like it might be moving at warp speed, the interior shows off a relaxing atmosphere of pure Nordic inspired simplicity.

Offgrid In Normandy: How He Built This Modern A-Frame On A Budget

When you think of living off the grid, various images come to mind, and no doubt some of you envision grizzled people huddled together for warmth, living in some remote forest.

A Little Caesars commercial recently illustrated this in a funny way:


However, that’s not the most accurate portrayal of life off the grid. As Jean-Baptiste Barache demonstrated, building an offgrid house for cheap doesn’t mean you need to compromise living conditions. His A-frame barn, stationed in the middle of a field in Normandy, France, is a perfect example.


He paid a local barn builder to construct the rough frame, and then collected various salvaged materials from all over the place – lumber from theater sets, veneer and particleboard, and red cedar shingles for the exterior cladding. All said and done after 18 months of working on the build, he estimates it cost around $105k.

51b0186974c5b675a700029f._w.540_s.fit_ 51b01867fb04d6098b0002f4._w.540_s.fit_

Going without electricity doesn’t mean forgoing power, but it does cast daily life in a much simpler mold. A gas canister fuels the simple stovetop in the kitchen; a homemade wood-burning stove diffuses heat through the house in a slow, steady burn.


The front of the barn looks decidedly antique…


While inside, the rough, unfinished walls and ceiling keep costs down. Upstairs you’ll find three “pods” for sleeping.


At night he and his wife light candles and oil lamps, and Jean-Baptiste refers to Junichiro Tanizaki’s “In Praise of Shadows” as a source of inspiration for living comfortably without electricity, noting the appreciation he has for the shadows cast by the flickering flames.


Images: Céline Clanet

The Ultimate Cold Climate Solar Cabin Of Our Dreams