Architect Jesse Garlick’s off-the-grid vacation home in rural Washington references its rugged surroundings. The steel cladding has developed a patina similar to the ochre-red color of bedrock found in the area.
The restrained 820-square-foot interior is defined by the angular ceiling. Garlick left the prefabricated structural panels unfinished to save on material costs. A True North wood stove from Pacific Energy heats the house.
Beside the Georgian Bay in Ontario, architect and partner at Toronto's CORE Architects Charles Gane built a 2,100-square-foot getaway for himself that combines urban building practices with rugged self-sufficiency. The aluminum window system and flat roof are common characteristics of Toronto's high-rises, while the cedar shingles belong to cottage vernacular.
Though it is spacious and modern, Gane's cottage functions entirely off-the-grid. Sewage is treated on-site, water is filtered from the lake and cleansed with ultraviolet light, and an impressive solar array provides energy with battery storage.
Finished in 2014, this 900-square-foot cabin in Appalachia overlooks a valley and a 13-acre lake. It serves as a weekend house and guest residence. During the cabin’s construction it became clear that connecting it to the water and electrical grid would be prohibitively expensive. As a result, the cabin operates entirely off-the-grid, and its sustainable features became an exciting aspect of the design process for the architect and his parents.
While a lengthy building lifespan minimizes environmental impact—for example, the charred cedar will last 80 years—an array of solar panels 50 yards from the house also allows it to operate independently from the electrical grid. A cistern collects fresh water from a nearby natural spring.
Located 120 miles east of Albququerque, it's not hard to see why this building—titled the Element House—needed to be self-sufficient. Designed by MOS Architects, the residence was comissioned by the Museum of Outdoor Arts to host guests visiting a nearby installation: artist Charles Ross' Star Axis, a massive outdoor stellar observatory.
The Element House stands on pylons, creating the illusion it hovers over the desert floor. Nine thermal chimneys, one of which can be seen right, channel hot air out from the interior living areas.
“Bach” is local shorthand in New Zealand for a rudimentary beachside cabin. This one, located on a remote island 62 miles from the coast of Auckland and off the electricity grid, is designed around the rituals of communal food preparation, dining and sleeping, and to be occupied for short periods of time.
Given the lack of a central power system on the island, Herbst Architects designed the kitchen on the premise that less is more, deliberately keeping appliances to a bare minimum. The fridge and oven run on gas, and a solar energy system supplies limited lighting.