The word “sustainable” is a bit of a buzzword, evoking images of wind turbines, solar panels, and barefoot hippies eating locally grown kale. While the idea of living in a way that doesn’t compromise the future is gaining traction in business, academia and politics, it has long been a cornerstone of Hawaiian culture.
Hawaiians have always stressed “Aloha a malama ka aina,” for in return the land will love and take care of you. For people who depended on the natural environment to live, this was an intuitive notion; recklessness and wastefulness would spell certain disaster. The love and appreciation for the land was as much a spiritual connection as it was an economic reality.
Here’s the problem: The economic reality of Hawaii today is that we depend almost singularly on tourism, with nearly six times more visitors than residents coming to Hawaii every year. Those visitors provide hundreds of thousands of jobs and inject millions of dollars into the local economy – all well-tread information.
As Hawaii progressively strides in the direction of sustainability, it begs the question: Is there such a thing as sustainable tourism?
Gerhard Feldbacher, a designer from Austria, has just launched a small home, which can easily be moved around on a whim, though it is not a true mobile home. He’s calling his invention Simple Home, and it is designed to rest atop four legs which allows the home to be easily installed in the desired location without the need for hoists, cranes or other heavy machinery. And perhaps, best of all, the Simple Home can be taken off-the-grid.
The basic Simple Home measures 24 feet by 8.5 feet (7.5 m by 2.6 m) and is 13 feet (4 m) high. It is made of wood, and greatly resembles a shipping container home. The walls are 4 inches thick, as is the roof. The home also features a ventilated façade and is insulated using wood fiber insulation though customers can also opt for sheep’s wool insulation, if they prefer.
Despite its humble size, the Simple Home is cozy and well equipped. It features a full kitchen, a lounging area, a wet room bathroom with toilet and sink, and a bedroom. The latter is pretty innovative, and features a pop-out unit that rests on wheels, so that it can be pulled out from the main part of the home by hand. Since the home is raised on four stilt-like legs, there is also a set of steps that lead up to the house. The home also features a terrace. Simple Home can be hooked up to the grid or run off its own solar-based power system.
To transport a home a flatbed truck is needed and the whole process works a lot like transporting a shipping container. Once the truck carrying the container reaches the destination, the four retractable legs are lowered which enables the home to stand on its own. After this the truck drives away, leaving the home in place.