Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Off the Grid

Off the Grid: Houses for Escape
Dominic Bradbury
Thames & Hudson, March 2019

Hardcover | 9-1/2 x 11-3/4 inches | 272 pages | 310 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0500021422 | $45.00

Publisher Description:
Recent advances in technologies and home-generated renewable energy have made building away from urban and rural infrastructures more practical, affordable and desirable than ever. This survey of the world’s most innovative off-grid homes reveals the stunning spaces and constructions that enable us to escape to some of the most extraordinary natural environments on the planet.

All of the houses featured in
Off the Grid are fully, or almost fully, self-sufficient in terms of energy, water and, in some cases, food. Architecture and interior design expert Dominic Bradbury reveals how each house makes everyday living in these wild and natural settings a rewarding and tempting reality. From snowbound cabins in the far Northern Hemisphere to coastal retreats that can only be accessed by boat, the diverse projects collected here show the ingenious ways in which architects and their clients are tackling extreme climates, remoteness and construction challenges for new lifestyles that are both liberating and sustainable.

The imperative to reduce our carbon footprints and refocus on renewable sources of energy has a profound impact on our domestic lives.
Off the Grid proves that creative architecture, design and technology are redefining living a truly responsible and fulfilling lifestyle.
dDAB Commentary:
When I hear the phrase "off the grid" in regards to living spaces, the first thing that pops into my mind is setting: a house — or more often a retreat — is forced to go off-grid because it is so far removed from power lines, sewer hook-ups, and other infrastructures. In turn, off-grid owners needs to generate their own power and treat their own waste, for sure, while die-hards might build with materials from their property and grow food on the same. In all cases, it's safe to wager that owners of off-grid houses want to minimize their impact on the environment, both globally and locally; in the latter case retaining the beauty of the land they opted to build on. The 42 houses in Off the Grid are at the modern, stylish, and comfortable end of the off-grid spectrum, ranging from single-room camps and cabins to decent-sized houses that would also be at home closer to cities.

The importance of setting is clear in author Dominic Bradbury's organization of the 42 contemporary buildings in three chapters: Countryside and Forest, Hillside and Mountains, and Waterside and Coast. Many of the projects are located where one would expect to find off-grid living: Australia, Canada, California and the Pacific Northwest, and Scandinavia. One of my favorite projects is located in Wales: Waind Gohil + Potter's SkyHut, a one-room retreat that functions as a "glamping observatory" thanks to an operable roof for gazing at the sky. The architects were inspired by traditional Welsh myths and stargazing: "poets and bards would camp out on the mountain [of Cadair Idris] seeking inspiration for their work," Bradbury writes. The same could be applied generally to the projects assembled in Off the Grid, which reads like a thick collection of articles from Dwell or another shelter magazine (minus the somewhat technical off-grid guide at the back of the book): People use these retreats to leave the city behind for a weekend, get inspired and refreshed by nature, and then return to the "real world" rejuvenated and ready for anything.

Author Bio:
Dominic Bradbury is a journalist and writer specializing in architecture and design. He is the author of many books on the subject, including Mountain Modern, New Brazilian House, Vertical Living, Mid Century Modern Complete, The Iconic Interior, Mediterranean Modern, New Natural Home and The Iconic House, all published by Thames & Hudson.
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