The Cube Project: A Sustainable Bachelor Pad

In April 2011, the Edinburgh International Science Festival in Scotland unveiled a model of the Cube Project, a sustainable living alternative presented by Dr. Mike Page. Dr. Page, a reader in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK, designed the Cube as a way for one person to live a low-impact, modern lifestyle in an eco-friendly bachelor pad.

The Cube has a 2-meter head height throughout the house, measures 3x3x3 meters (27 cubic meters in total), and has a kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bed. The entryway opens up into the living room, where two chairs and a table can be pushed together to form a sofa, or arranged around the table for a cozy dinner for two. The living room also has a surprisingly spacious closet, a flat-screen LED TV mounted to the wall, a washing machine and a space for hanging clothes up to dry. A short flight of space-saving stairs leads to the bathroom, with a composting toilet and full-size shower. The stairs, each wide enough for just one foot, require some navigation skills, but seem easy to get used to. Solid waste from the toilet is composted, while liquid wasted drains to a reed bed underneath the house. Composting toilets often lessen the need for water in a toilet tank, as they treat solid waste in a tank underneath the toilet. Absorbent additives such as sawdust, peat moss, and coconut coir are added to the compost to add air pockets, which break down the waste. The kitchen is furnished with a sink, drying rack, cabinets, mini fridge, and cooktop. Another set of stairs leads to a full-size bed in a loft.

The Cube is powered by sustainable lighting and electricity, including high-efficiency LED lighting throughout the house. The kitchen has an energy-efficient refrigerator, and an induction cooktop – meaning that it heats the electric burners but not the air around it, eliminating the need to turn on the air conditioning while cooking. The house has solar panels on the roof and window-less south wall, triple-glazed windows to insulate the building, and a central air source heat pump, which utilizes the outside air for heating. Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air, even in cool temperatures, and release this heat inside the building. Not surprisingly, these pumps are most efficient in warmer weather, since less energy is needed to heat up the extracted air, but they are still very efficient even at freezing temperatures. Sustainable, renewable cork flooring carpets the house, while the walls and furniture are constructed from sustainably-harvested plywood and English sweet timber.

This cozy box of a house presents itself as not only a viable living option, but also as a quick fix during times of disaster, such as after an earthquake or tornado strikes. The Cube is affordable and can even be profitable – the Cube is intended to generate as much energy as it uses over the course of a year, and owners could sell some of the energy produced by the home’s solar panels, earning up to $1600 per year.

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