Architect Carly Coulson preaches a form of design she calls "invisible sustainability." This approach takes sustainable design principles and incorporates them into an aesthetic that is rigorously minimal. The Disappear Retreat is one of Coulson's flagship designs, aiming for what is dubbed "triple-zero living" – zero energy, zero waste, zero water.
The Disappear Retreat is an impressively conceived prefab, off-grid dwelling with a footprint of just 83 sq ft (7.7 sq m). The entire design is centered on maximizing sustainable features and reducing energy consumption, which is aided by glass walls that are triple pane insulated with a strong R-value of 32. On the outside they are reflective, acting like giant mirrors so the entire unit disappears into its landscape.
The structure is air-tight and meets many Passive House standards from around the world. No mechanical heating or cooling is reportedly needed and any other small energy demands are supplied by a photovoltaic system on one of its glass walls. Rainwater can be captured off the roof of an accompanying Shed unit.
Three models are currently up for preorder, each externally identical but with different interior configurations. The Bed+Bath is clearly the most contained, livable design with built-in bed, bathroom and cook space. The Basic model is a more flexible open-plan iteration, while a Sauna model has built-in wooden benches and sauna systems.
The project was initially announced in mid 2017 with prototype testing and evaluation to be revealed later in 2018. The plan is to build a collection of prototypes in a forest near Grand Marais, Minnesota that would act as info-centers on sustainable building while allowing potential buyers to "test-drive" the designs via overnight stays.
It is expected that Disappear Retreats will be available for purchase from 2019 and preorder enquiries are open now. The proposed price is currently between US$25,000 and $45,000 as Coulson is intent on keeping these designs attainable to all.
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