Armed only with experience in biology, chemistry and physics, a group of Chile-based scientists took concepts ranging from photosynthesis to thermodynamics to create ZeroCabin, a collection of off-grid and self-sustaining cabins that use “free energy” to function. With no prior knowledge of architecture between them, the team set out with one rule: to place nature (namely sun and rainwater) at the forefront of the project.

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bright green trees surround a small, solitary cabin with a wood deck and solar panels on the roof

The timber-framed cabins are elevated on two-meter wooden piles and built by the company itself, but come with maintenance plans for photovoltaic panels, waste recycling and rainwater collection through reverse osmosis. These kits provide buyers with the tools and information to create a self-sustaining cabin with negative impact customized to function anywhere in the world. The structures use biodegradable insulation, and the need for excess artificial heating and cooling is cut down with thermal glazing. To reduce the need for additional materials during construction, the frame is built without using nails.

two photos. to the left, a photo of storage in the kitchen, with green walls surrounding and a red structure under the shelving. to the right, a photo of a small black box that holds the fireplace.

In the field of botany, phyllotaxis refers to the arrangement of leaves on a plant stem, one of the many ways that nature organically creates the maximum conversion of photosynthesis and harnesses energy more efficiently. ZeroCabin takes this concept and applies it to architecture, arranging each self-sustaining cabin at the optimal angle for sun exposure, therefore gaining the most efficient use of solar panels.

greenery surrounds a solitary cabin, with two people sitting out on the deck

For heating, a system was created by placing air suction tubes onto the sides of the stove burn chamber. This allows owners to cook, bake and warm water using one-third the typical amount of wood.

greenery surrounds a solitary cabin

Apart from the goal of generating a smaller environmental footprint, ZeroCabin is also driven by creating a higher quality of life for its clients. Lower utility bills on trash, water, electricity and gas mean less financial strain — a cherry on top of zero-impact living.

greenery surrounds a solitary cabin with several windows on the front facade and solar panels on the roof

Another inspiration behind ZeroCabin is the sense of freedom gained by using only natural resources as power. The company proves its dedication to the environment even further by putting 10% of its utility towards native forests and wildlife preservation.

+ ZeroCabin

Images via ZeroCabin