The low-tech liberation of off-grid living

The low-tech liberation of off-grid living

Off The Grid: Houses for Escape, a new book from Thames and Hudson, provides inspiring design and architectural examples of dwellings that could liberate us from our reliance on fossil fuels and reduce our environmental footprint. If you’re interested in going down the alternative living route, this is your handbook.

Each case study is fully (or almost fully) self-sufficient in terms of energy, water and even in some cases, food. Low-tech renewable energy options include wood burning stoves, private wells and rainwater harvesting, photovoltaics, domestic battery storage, heat pumps and small scale wind and hydroelectric turbines.

house ein extramadura
Ábaton Arquitectura: House in Extremadura, Cáceres, Extremadura, Spain. The house seeks to connect with its surroundings via large apertures, including the barn door to one side, which opens to reveal bedrooms on two levels. Photography: Belen Imaz, 2019

‘Breaking the conventional reliance on standard utility services and infrastructure requires a degree of imagination and confidence, but also allows a wealth of possibilities that make everyday living in remote and rural parts of the world a rewarding and tempting reality,’ writes Dominic Bradbury, author and architecture expert.

As well as practical and energy-efficient, the projects are located in some of the most beautiful pockets of the world from the far Northern Hemisphere to coastal environments allowing humans to experience and live alongside nature. The design and construction challenges that accompany these remote locations are also explored in the texts.

Favourite escapes include Scott & Scott’s Alpine cabin on Vancouver island with its irregular, angular roof – complete with zero phone coverage; Studio Joseph’s zinc-clad house submerged in an olive grove in California powered by solar; and Room 11’s ‘Home at the ends of the earth’ on Bruny Island in Tasmania, a ‘low-slung’ residence settled in a ‘mesmerizing’ landscape. §

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