Competing teams around the world are working on mobile off-grid pods that can be plonked down anywhere to become comfortable living quarters.
A Canadian design firm created a cabin that’s packed into a 6-metre container but transforms into a high-tech, environmentally friendly home, fully equipped for living.The cabin has a composting toilet, and two large holding tanks for water. The filtration system consists of UV light to kill bacteria and micro filters to pull out sediment. As of now, the tanks are filled upon deployment of the exhibit, but plans are to add an awning to catch rainwater for the tanks, revealed co-designer Robert Studer.
“It’s amazing how in 480 square feet, you can actually live in something that’s self-contained and filled with smart stuff,” says Lisa Snider, who saw the cabin at the Metro Home Show in Toronto in January. “It’s sustainable . . . compact . . . really cool,” said Snider.
Energy and heat for the exhibit are provided by a biodiesel generator and by large photovoltaic panels, which can also be used to recharge batteries. The cabin’s photovoltaic panels were made by Day4Energy, its sound system by Audio Products International, and the composting toilet came from Sun Mar Corp. It also uses long-lasting LED lighting.
Studer said it takes a team of four about a day to set up the exhibit. The cabin is packed into a container called a MECC, designed by Weatherhaven and used worldwide for military and disaster relief operations. The MECC’s walls fold down to become the floors and when it’s deployed, it triples in size.
“It can actually support a family of four, even a pet,” said Snider. “That’s really amazing. People were really excited and impressed.”
Unfortunately, it’s not for sale – but almost everyone seems to want one. “We’re constantly being inundated with How much? and ‘Where can I get one?.”
This all-terrain cabin is addressing a deep seated need for people to want to live in the woods off the grid,” muses Studer.
The Bark Design Collective, which comprises several design firms, embarked on the cabin project two years ago. Studer, who has his own design firm This Is It Design Inc., is also marketing director for the collective.
Bark wants the All Terrain Cabin to be the cabin of the 21st century, said Studer, who refused to give its cost, fearing it would give it too much of a retail image.
The cabin is currently on a four-year tour around the world. Its first stop was in Calgary in March 2006. Since then it has drawn huge crowds in Vancouver and Toronto.
At the Toronto show, the lineups were long just “absolutely packed,” especially on Saturday and Sunday, said Snider,
The next stop is the Ottawa home show March 22 to 25.
When the tour is over, Bark plans to have some fun with it, he said. There are no plans yet to mass produce it for consumers.
“We’re going to use it as an incredible publicity stunt . . . such as using a helicopter to airlift it up onto an alpine lake,” said Studer.
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