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New Off-The-Grid Projects Offer Insights To The Energy Future
Smart buildings 01/01/2021

New Off-The-Grid Projects Offer Insights To The Energy Future

From beehive-like residences to artificial coral reefs, let’s look at some projects taking autonomous living to a whole new level. credit: Gianluca Santosuosso Design

Builders, designers and architects are dreaming up more and more creative solutions

Living off the grid may seem like a near-impossible challenge, but those who dare to try are a great resource for the rest of us. Not only have self-sufficient homes come a long way in both their design and feasibility, but they’re introducing us to entirely novel ways of living. 

Builders, designers and architects are dreaming up more and more creative solutions that incorporate not only autonomous clean energy generation, but innovative waste, water, and temperature management. From beehive-like residences to artificial coral reefs, here are some projects taking autonomous living to a whole new level:         


credit: Mathieu Collos


Many architects and planners are working hard on adapting housing to the ever-growing threat of rising sea levels. One such architect, MathieuCollos, has conceived of not just a house, but an entire self-sustaining, aquatic habitat called SEA STEM.

  • Collos envisioned a building to be stationed 7.5 miles from Palavas port in France, where the waters are 50 meters deep. The habitat will rise 30 meters above sea level and include an artificial reef to help promote marine biodiversity.
  • The building will be fully autonomous, powering itself through wind, solar and turbine energy, producing its own food through aquaculture and permaculture, and generating its own clean water by harvesting rainwater and desalination.
  • Guests at SEA STEM will be educated on greener living, as they’ll help maintain the permaculture garden and learn about marine life through activities involving the artificial reef. Even sailing and foiling offers will contribute to environmental data collection via onboard sensors.
  • The project is still in its earliest stages, but aims to find funding through a mixed-use program of scientific research and eco-tourism.


credit: SYSHAUS


Another great example of using water as terrain is the Brazilian construction firm SYSHAUS, which has designed a prefabricated home, the waterlilliHaus, that not only floats on São Paulo lake, but generates its own energy.

  • Specifically designed for use off of the grid, the waterlilliHaus generates its own electricity through solar panels installed on its roof. It also collects and treats rainwater for clean drinking, and filters water waste through a cleansing system before returning it to nature.
  • While the hot Brazilian climate often calls for air conditioning, the waterlilliHaus utlizes natural ventilation and the stack effect to keep the building cool. The building also comes with a smart home system that can be managed from afar and is compatible with low-energy appliances. 
  • The small dwelling, measuring 38.4 m2, is mounted on a catamaran that can be sailed or anchored. The homes can be constructed in under two days thanks to automated machines that also help minimize waste.         


credit: Gianluca Santosuosso Design


One way of creating sustainable, autonomous homes is to take designs from the natural world into account. Short for “Human-Inclusive & Vertical Ecosystem,” HIVE is one such multi-resident, low-carbon housing project, inspired by the habitats of bees.

  • Created by Gianluca Santosuosso Design for the Royal Institute of British Architects’ design competition “The Home of 2030,” HIVE buildings are composed of prefabricated wooden honeycomb structures that allow residents to customize their home as more rooms can be easily added with biodegradable construction materials, greatly minimizing environmental impact.
  • The dwellings are self-sufficient when it comes to energy and water resources, as they are designed to integrate with renewable energy systems and come with a water recycling system that safely disposes of wastewater.
  • The design of the building itself promotes a Socio-Eco-System: A circular, local economy where residents share energy and food-generating systems, minimizing unnecessary waste and fostering social cohesion.    


credit: Vox Creative

IKEA Tiny Home

The famous Swedish home retailer has partnered with Vox Creative to go beyond furniture and hardware and take home improvement to the next level by upgrading the home itself. The result is the Tiny Home Project, a mobile micro-dwelling that isn’t reliant on any grid.

  • The 17.4-square-meter abode includes solar panels, a composting toilet, and an optional water heater. The structure rests on wheels and can be easily attached to a vehicle.
  • The interior of the tiny home is equipped with solar panels, lined with sustainable wood and furnished with IKEA’s sustainable and energy-efficient products, such as kitchen fronts made from recycled bottles and a water-saving thermostatic shower head.
  • The project was completed in 2020, but it’s U.S. release was put on hold due to the pandemic. One model of the tiny home is currently available for order, starting at $47,550.

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