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5 cool off-grid prefabs to celebrate this Earth Day

Some are even tiny

Cube-like home with black-clad exterior on rocky coastal terrain.
The 2,000-square-foot home on Australia’s French Island was constructed by Ecoliv and designed by architect Lai Cheong Brown.
Photo courtesy Ecoliv

With Earth Day just around the corner, we’ve rounded up our favorite off-grid tiny houses and prefab homes—even off-grid prefab tiny homes!—to inspire your fantasy of leaving it all behind and escaping to the wilderness for a while.

Whether designed to resemble cabins or mirrored to disappear into the landscape, these eco-friendly dwellings are sure to offer something for everyone. Have a look.

A luxury solar-powered pre-fab home on an Australian island


This 2,000-square-foot home looks pretty fancy, but it’s not your average beach house. Constructed by Aussie prefab builder Ecoliv and designed by architect Lai Cheong Brown for his parents, the rectilinear dwelling was actually built completely off site and then shipped to an alpaca farm on Australia’s French Island on a barge.

Comprising five separate modules, the home is arranged around an internal courtyard, a design that protects the home from harsh coastal winds. As for its mechanics, wood is used for heating and cooking, solar panels provide electricity, and rainwater harvesting worm farm sewerage treatment systems are in place.

12-foot tiny house packs it all in 100 square feet

Modern Tiny Living

Adorably called the Nugget, this 100-square-foot tiny home is conveniently off-grid—but that doesn’t mean it has to skimp on cuteness. Designed by Modern Tiny Living, the cottage-like dwelling features a wooden countertop with sink, built-in cabinets with copper knobs, a wooden shelf lining the top of the wall, and a bed with under-storage. Solar roof panels power the home, while a 100-gallon fresh water tank provides water (the toilet is composting) and a propane heater heating.

Prefab tiny cabin is built for retreating to nature

Small house with corrugated metal exterior in a city plaza.
The Artist Bothy (not in the wild).
Johnny Barrington via The Spaces

Inspired by the Scottish tradition of providing basic shelter to anyone who found themselves in the wilderness in need of a place to stay for the night, the Bothy Project was started by Bobby Niven and Iain MacLeod, who wanted to offer artists and researchers the opportunity to explore different regions in Scotland.

The first off-grid home they designed was the Artist Bothy, a simple, very small cabin sheathed in weathered corrugated metal with plywood interiors. Though a kitchenette and wood-burning stove are included, a bathroom is not.

The house that self-assembles in 10 minutes

United Kingdom-based company Ten Fold Engineering has designed an incredible folding structure that can build itself out in just 10 minutes. With retractable walls, fold down floors, and a simple mechanism that requires just a hand-held, battery-powered drill to deploy it, the Ten Fold house can be adapted to a near-infinite uses. It’s also transportable, can be stacked, and can be equipped with solar panels to go off-grid.

Mirrored off-grid prefab can be many things


Though it’s still in development, the Disappear Retreat is an intriguing 83-square-foot pre-fab dwelling sheathed in one-way mirrored glass—with see through ceilings, too. Conceived by the architects at Coulson, the home is designed to be zero energy, zero waste, and zero water. Power is generated by way of thin photovoltaic film and emergency batteries, while triple-insulated glass and vacuum insulated wall panels means that the home does not require heating or cooling systems.