Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Maine Island House Designed By Alex Scott Porter Design

This three-season retreat house is situated on the outermost inhabited island in Maine. The island has no roads, stores, electricity, water service, year-round inhabitants or ferry service – no grid. The house can store enough solar energy and rain water to power a refrigerator, lights, kitchen tap, outdoor shower and outlets for music or a laptop for as long as you’d like.

The 550 square foot house, on a tiny lot, sits right on the water facing the harsh northeastern open ocean – winds clocking 100 mph were measured this year. The house was designed with a hard, protective aluminum shell to close up in the off-season, by three large sliding doors. The exterior needed to be virtually maintenance free, a challenge with the corrosive salt air. But in mild weather the house opens up to take in the prevailing breezes and soak up the daylight. Technolgy-wise, the house has photovoltaics with large-capacity batteries, a 525 gallon cistern, a composting toilet, and a solar refrigerator originally designed for keeping medical supplies cold in Sub-Saharan Africa. The local lobsterman turned out to be a great source for sustainable energy information as he had been living off-the-grid for decades. The construction had to be planned to the nail, as all the materials came out at once, on an amphibious Vietnam-era US Army landing craft that pulled right up onto the beach (Everyone on the island came out to watch). All the framing is on a 2-foot grid for fail-proof planning and coordination. The simple interior uses unfinished north-eastern woods. In addition, truly local materials were used—beach stones for the hearth and island-cured concrete counters – as well as recycled plastic laminate for the cabinets...........more

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