House Port Mini Square

Cars have carports, why can’t a house have a house port? Designer Hally Thacher was looking to build an eco-friendly home and was inspired by the structures that sheltered hay, alfalfa and farm equipment in the area of northern California where she had grown up. Her House Port and PopUP House designs make for a very interesting concept in home building.


The PopUP House is available in several configurations which are prefabricated and shipped flat-packed to the building site. The PopUP House consists of interior/exterior insulated panels. Over the top of the PopUP is the prefabbed House Port (the large freestanding roof) that protects the home against weather, keeps a consistent temperature throughout the hot summer and offers a covered outdoor area. Several smaller versions of the PopUP, called Cubes, can even be purchased and placed like a small village under the House Port. Continue reading

Mad Woman in the Forest

Take a look at that window. That glorious window was the catalyst for the design of Laurie Halse Anderson’s cottage in the forest. Laurie is the author of several young adult books and historical thrillers and she writes in a small cottage in the forest. She expressed her need for a “room of her own in which to write fiction”, and her video from 2009 recounts the conception and building of her writing cottage. It was built over the course of a year by her carpenter husband and several of his friends. Laurie and her family wanted it to be off-grid, made with reclaimed materials and easy on the environment.

That amazing window (which Laurie called “a magic window”) was found lying up against a barn and turned out to be a church window from the 1800s. Custom glass was made for each round section of the window. She and her husband also perused the salvage yard and found old growth pine boards to use for the floor and chimney pots for the roof. Soybean based foam insulation was sprayed into the walls and the roof is Vermont slate. The house is powered by wind and solar. Continue reading

Jessica’s Tiny Green Cabin

After suffering from several bouts of pneumonia and losing some of her distance vision, Jessica Bolt knew that she would not be able to afford rent or an average home on her teacher’s salary. So, she had a tiny house from Tiny Green Cabins made according to her specifications. Jessica knew that she wanted a tiny home built by a company from the northern part of the U.S. where winter temperatures can drop to 40 degrees below zero, and she wanted it on wheels so she could move it wherever she wanted.

Jessica’s plan for her tiny house came to her about five years ago when she decided she wanted a small, energy-saving home that would also be kind to her allergic reactions to environmental toxins. She also wanted it to be able to fit a washer and dryer since the nearest laundry was 100 miles away. Her house is 196 square feet with a staircase to the loft, a full-size kitchen and shower, an incinerating toilet and skylights. The interior is covered in 3-inch-wide white ash boards. Continue reading

Fab Lab House

A house designed to act like a tree has recently won the Solar Decathlon Europe people’s choice award. The Fab Lab House, created by the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) was visited by over 20,000 people during the event in Madrid, Spain. The Fab Lab House uses the sun, water and wind to create a micro climate that passively optimizes the basic conditions of habitability within the home.

The house was designed to act like a tree that captures energy with its solar “leaves” and sends it down to its roots, where is stored, shared, or returned to the house to produce the fruit of electricity. The house contains a “domestic metabolism” that provides a detailed real-time monitoring of its behavior and its interaction with the environment, creating historical profiles and sharing them socially.

The design of the Fab Lab house has been compared to both a boat and a peanut and has been called a “cinnamon submarine,” “forest zeppelin” and a “whale belly”. The house has also introduced significant technological innovations such as the world’s most efficient flexible solar panels, made with both Spanish and American technology. The project involved architects and experts from 20 countries as well as experts from MIT.
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I first saw an EcoNest about 9 years ago and had forgotten about them until now. Even after studying many different types of natural building, Econests will continue to be one of my favorites because of their beautiful resemblance to the curves and colors of nature. They might even be the closest way to be outdoors without stepping out the door.


EcoNests are simple, elegant, and healthful handcrafted dwellings that welcome owner participation in their construction. Continue reading