Living in a trailer carries with it a certain stigma but this didn’t stop Urs Peter Flueckiger and his students at the College of Architecture, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and the College of Engineering at Texas Tech University from requisitioning part of a derelict doublewide and turning it into the prefabricated Sustainable Cabin. Destined for a landfill, the professor et al. extensively remodeled a section to test sustainable architectural concepts in construction materials and techniques, with the end goal of better understanding their methods and applications.
Ascribing to the minimalist living ideas espoused by author Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) who himself lived in a tiny 150 square foot home, the Sustainable Cabin pursues those ideas of a simple life in natural surroundings.
With solar energy as its only source of power, rainwater harvesting and a composting toilet, this design is quite at home in the middle of nowhere, completely off the grid, and serves as a working laboratory for the students and faculty. It is currently up and running in Ford County, 45 miles west of Wichita Falls, Texas. It measures 14-feet wide and 28-feet long and has a composting toilet, battery energy storage, solar panels, cedar and corrugated iron exterior, recycled denim insulation, bamboo flooring, and energy-efficient Morso stove.
The exterior siding consists of corrugated iron and cedar planks.
The interior has a bamboo floor and yellow pine cladding on the walls and ceiling, concealing the recycled cotton insulation made primarily from old blue jeans. The stove is constructed from recycled scrap iron.
Obviously, this unit is one of a kind and is not being produced commercially by the university, but the simplicity of the design and construction process means there’s no real reason a commercial consideration wouldn’t be viable. A self-contained cabin with electricity and water would certainly provide a much more affordable and convenient alternative to current cabins that either have to be expensively connected to the utilities or uncomfortably go without.
Check out these videos:
This one is an interview with Urs:
And this one by Jetson Green, is about the architectural solutions to ecological building issues that Urs and students at Texas Tech University addressed including water use, energy production, and resource consumption — i.e., water harvesting, composting, natural ventilation, and solar power:
Credits: Urs Peter Flueckiger; noticed at MoCo Loco.