I’ve often dreamed about living “off the grid.” Particularly when I’m stressed, I fantasize about building a cabin in the woods, far from other humans, and just living a quiet, disconnected life among the trees. Of course, that’s not exactly realistic – my work depends on the Internet, and I do like social interaction most of the time. However, I suspect that most people get overwhelmed by our crowded, constantly connected society and dream about escaping it all from time to time.
While I have no plans to build a log cabin in the woods anytime soon, I think I may have found my dream home in PassivDom, a Ukrainian startup that 3D prints small, modular homes that can be easily transported and installed anywhere as 3D printing continues to make headway in housing. A PassivDom home can be set up in the middle of the woods, on top of a mountain, or in any remote location you feel like running off to, but it’s no log cabin – it’s a fully autonomous, smart home that runs completely on solar energy. It even has its own water storage system, so you can live completely off the grid, with zero utility bills.
Thanks to advanced materials and insulation, a PassivDom house is capable of staying perfectly warm in the winter and cool in the summer, even with large windows. Its modular construction means that you can build a home as small or large as you want (individual modules start at 36 square meters), and it’s all prefabricated – according to the company, you can purchase a house in the morning and move in by evening.
“The house frame is printed as a single component which is manufactured in a mechanized way. The frame is printed with the use of industrial 7-axes robots. The house frame consists of walls, floor basement, and roof. So we print whole house base in one cycle. It is the one difference between our technology and others 3D-printing construction companies: robots print not only walls but the whole house,” PassivDom’s PR Manager, Maria Sorokina, tells 3DPrint.com.
“We use carbon fiber, polyurethane, basalt, resins, and fiberglass for printing. In the first step, robots mix components in composite with high thermal and resistant characteristics. That is how we get extremely durable construction along with maximum warmth. A composite is extruding layer by layer as in a ‘usual’ 3D-printing.”
The house is pretty much apocalypse-proof – since it runs completely on solar energy, you’ll never be affected by a power outage, and it is, according to PassivDom, impregnable to break-ins, thanks to tempered glass, aluminum windows and doors, and a frame that is six times stronger than steel. In fact, PassivDom even offers a special “zombie apocalypse” package that includes armored glazing, extra toilet paper storage, a circular perimeter alarm system and a Bible. (There’s also a “not in my backyard” package that includes extra insurance and a replica of a Kalashnikov. I like this company.)
Three main options are offered: you can buy a very basic module with built-in electrical wiring, heating and ventilation for €29,900, but no furniture, appliances or kitchen and bathroom are included. The Standard module, for €39,900, comes with all of those things, plus an alarm system and cloud-based video surveillance. It still needs to be connected to power, water and sewage lines, however, so it’s not fully off the grid. The €59,900 Autonomous option will be the real selling point for most people – it’s completely self-sufficient and solar-powered, and all appliances and power systems can be controlled by your smartphone.
Of course, you can’t exactly plop yourself down just anywhere – a national park, for example, might frown on your taking up residence – but the mobile nature of the house means that you can lease a parcel of land, which is much less expensive than buying. The PassivDom house isn’t available for purchase quite yet, but the company will shortly be offering modules for “test drives,” meaning that people can live in them for a few days to try them out and offer feedback. Sign me up, seriously.
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PassivDom has a lot of big ideas for the future, too – they have several interesting concepts that you can take a look at here, including an idea called modulMOON. Come to think of it, the PassivDom model sounds ideal for construction on the moon and Mars, especially if they can find a way to duplicate the system using extraterrestrial resources.
“3D-printing technology means endless possibilities: the shape and design can be adapted to the requirements of any local market,” Sorokina tells us. “It also means cheap and rapid production (with the potential for development on a worldwide scale).”
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