If the Urban Hotel concept by a team of Taiwanese designers appears more like a collection of bicycle storage lockers, that’s partially because they are.
While a bike is provided for each hotel guest as a mode of transportation, the specially fitted two-wheeler also serves as an energy source; if they choose (perhaps on overcast or otherwise inclement days), guests can help power their rooms thanks to a stationary in-room bike slot that generates kinetic energy from the vehicle’s wheels. Any excess energy generated can be applied as a discount on a guest’s room charge.
In addition, each room—among four in a module, with a common bathroom attached—offers a sleeping loft accessible by a wall ladder. Each four-room module is topped by a solar array to provide primary electrical power for outlets, space and water heating, and lighting (the latter supplementing clerestory windows) for all four units. A rooftop rain catchment and recycling system features a cistern, filter, and small pump above the bathroom.
The design team envisions municipalities setting the modules within or around convenient urban locations, such as in-town parks, for eco-interested travelers. The lightweight, single-level modules would be easily moved or clustered, as needed. Room keys would also serve as public transportation passes to supplement the bike.
Meanwhile, the Mirai Nihon Project near Tokyo appears to be the next step in single-family sustainable design, construction, and energy independence. Conceived and produced in collaboration with such heavy-hitters as Nissan Motors, NEC Corp., and Konica Minolta, among 18 other partners, the small but resource-sovereign house was developed in response to the earthquake and devastating tsunami that hit the country last March.
Billed as a model for a “100% off-grid lifestyle,” Mirai Nihon consists of a simple and portable wooden structural box—a distinctly low-tech but also affordable and flexible platform that can be adapted spatially and for a host of technologies as they approach and crest commercialization.
Meanwhile, the Nissan Leaf, a 100% electric car, provides not just transportation but also a measure of energy for the house, generating 24 kilowatts per hour to supplement a rooftop solar array to power the house year-round. An innovative water purification system can desalinate seawater (and remove other pollutants) to deliver safe drinking water. An energy monitoring system app for an iPad tracks resource use and allows the owners to take responsibility for their energy consumption and conservation.
To learn more about Mirai Nihon, go to http://vimeo.com/43008478.