Environmental and climate changes caused by human impact have encouraged architects to imagine new ways of living. Self-sustaining havens have been created for a variety of ‘scenarios’, whether it’s organic farming in the middle of the city, escaping civilization into the wasteland or floating in the open sea…

Architecture for a better tomorrow

OFF-GRID is a project that was presented at Milan Design Week as one of the leading trends in living in harmony with nature that in a futuristic way reflects the motto ‘My home, my freedom’. Among the most prominent such projects is Casa Ojalá by Italian architect Beatrice Bonzanigo.


This miniature mobile building can be set up anywhere and is available in twenty versions to adapt to the environmental and tenants’ needs. In just 27 square meters, Casa Ojalá has a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a terrace. Space can be separated, connected or completely opened to the outside in various ways by manually operated mechanisms. Thanks to the rope system, winches, and levers, the elements of the cottage can be easily ‘slipped’ and ‘rolled’. This kind of micro home is completely self-contained, with solar panels for energy production, a rainwater system, and a special drinking water tank.

THE WATER WORLD may be waiting for us in the future, but let’s hope it won’t be like in the eponymous post-apocalyptic film (Waterworld, 1995), in which the mainland is completely flooded. But because of climate change, we need to develop flooding settlements that are resistant to floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis say Swedish-based architectural firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group). In collaboration with the United Nations, they introduced the Oceanix City project, consisting of ‘islands’ or hexagonal wooden modules.


Using them, interconnected villages are formed, each of which can house 1650 people or can be built for 10,000 inhabitants. Oceanix City is designed as a self-sustaining ecosystem powered by wind, water and sun, food farms, natural sewage, based on the seaweed and clams, and complete waste recycling. BIG is building a prototype of this settlement, which will be located on East River, New York, near the United Nations headquarters

Vertical farms

VERTICAL FARMS are actually skyscrapers with gardens – thanks to which tenants do not have to rely on food from mass agricultural production using chemicals. This prevents the pollution of the environment that is otherwise created by the packaging and transportation of food from remote areas. Vertical farms are also important because in urban areas they reconnect people with nature. These gardens also act as air conditioning between the buildings and their surroundings. Plants, on the other hand, have favorable conditions for growth because buildings protect them and provide them with heat.

Waste food can be easily collected and converted into compost. In short, the skyscraper becomes a living organism, explains Chinese-Austrian married couple Fei and Chris Precht, founders of the Precht architecture studio behind The Farmhouse project. It is a skyscraper that is upgraded like a puzzle using triangular modules made of cross-laminated timber – an environmentally friendly and flexible material that is extremely suitable for demanding structures.


Author: Ivana Vodogažec / Sensa Magazine

Sensa is a Croatian wellbeing monthly magazine covering topics about personal growth, healthy and sustainable lifestyle, and life/work balance.