Pietro Russo has been perfecting the art of off-grid design for several years now, and we are thrilled to finally present his personal home among one of South Africa's most delicate ecosystems. The architect and his wife spent several months walking their plot in the Moose Valley Nature Reserve to determine how to best position their prefabricated Ecomo pods. Not only did they want to minimize their environmental footprint, but also to optimize every possible vista while at it. The resulting design boasts two large glazed openings and several smaller perforations that soak up the semi-desert landscape.
Ecomo homes are modular and customizable, affording clients a great deal of flexibility. They are also prefabricated, which helps to reduce construction and shipping costs and material waste. Russo’s home in the Klein Karoo only has two bedrooms and a large open-plan living and kitchen area. The fireplace keeps them warm during frigid desert nights, and the outside area is conducive to long hours of star-gazing or entertaining.
Completely off-grid, the home gets its water from a nearby spring, harvests rainwater, and recycles grey water to irrigate a small vegetable garden. Outside terraces and walls were built with materials found on-site.
Russo says living off the grid has been a transformative experience for his family.
“What was initially attractive to us has become so much more than not just being dependent or addicted to so much of what ‘the grid’ offered or trapped us into,” he said. “It has become about realizing what it also denied us, like the time to eat every meal together, to grow our own vegetables, to a whole weekend with visiting friends, to cook and to watch how miraculous and absolutely abundant nature really is.”
The interior design, according to Russo, represents a marriage between his wife’s bohemian style and his own clean minimalism. It was also important for them to create a warm environment that harmonizes with the hues of the surrounding fynbos. Pulsing with light, colorful in all the right places, and modestly sized, this spectacular home provides a quality of living that is hard to match.