Tiny Refresh House Shows Big Green Ideas

Challenged to create a tiny green house for a design competition, designer Sandi Baratama only thought small in terms of square footage. Refresh House (created in collaboration with Herv Wijaya and Ardi Rianbono, and which was a finalist in the competition) combines standard green building concepts like recycled materials and rainwater harvesting with an innovative approach to improved air quality and flexible use of space.

Preserving a small footprint helps to reduce the Refresh House’s energy needs, as well as to allow room for a kind of “green skin” around the home consisting of three plants known to filter toxins and pollutants: the sanserviera plant (known to absorb 107 different types of air pollution, including cigarette smoke and — according to Baratama — nuclear radiation), Kelengleng trees, which improve air quality, and hibiscus bushes, which absorb nitrogen from the air, benefiting human respiration.

Refresh House

image via Sandi Baratama

The central living space was designed with modular walls to accommodate a number of different scenarios — a “father or son” working late from home, or a “mother cooking large quantities of food during the day.” We have the feeling the use of flex space here might be explained a little differently if the design were intended for the U.S., but hey, you get the idea — it’s a house with a small footprint designed to accommodate whatever needs to happen in the life of a typical family.

The entire upstairs floor here is dedicated to super-private sleeping quarters for the Refresh House’s inhabitants, and cooling is handled via rainwater harvested on site.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.