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Can we live completely off-grid and in perfect harmony with nature?
This was the question we tried to answer in collaboration with the Master in Advanced Ecological Building and the Valldaura Labs team. And The Voxel was the response to that question.
The Voxel is a prototype of a new emerging way of living in a wider connection with nature. The design follows the principles of sustainability aiming at the self-sufficiency of the occupant as an architectural response to the ongoing ecological and pandemic crises.
The cabin is made out of wood entirely harvested within a 1km radius of the Green Fabrication Laboratory of Valldaura, where it has been processed to produce innovative cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels. The CLT structure is designed following the concepts of metal-free with lap joints and wooden dowels, inspired by a commitment to use less carbon-intensive materials. Moreover, to minimize the waste from the process, the wood off-cuts were reused as a rain-screen, using a parametrically organized design system.
The main effort of the project was to maximize the opportunity of integrating an advanced ecological architecture paradigm. This aims to generate and maintain the conditions that allow fulfilling the needs of the user while minimizing the use of external sources. The cabin is equipped with three solar panels and independent battery storage, specifically designed to power the lighting and devices for a single resident. The water system incorporates both rainwater collection and grey-water recycling, as well as black-water treatment within a self-contained biogas system that generates usable cooking or heating fuel and sanitary fertilizer as by-products.
Due to the complexity of the building shape, the roof integrates a creative solution of garden boxes to filter and collect the rainwater. These elements are made out of elaborate joints which do not require glue or screws. The whole roof design aims to recreate the favorable conditions to attract the local pollinator biodiversity and help the surrounding ecosystem to thrive.
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