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Community Forests International

Competition: Can a Building Clear the Air?
New Brunswick, Canada
Top Ten Finalist

Small All-Season Shelter

Concept:​​ Mino House is inspired by the mino-mushi, which is a bagworm in Japanese. The mino-mushi spins a protective shell around itself to hide it from its predators and to blend into its surroundings. It can do so because the shell is made from natural materials that it digests from the environment that it occupies. 


Mino House looks to the mino-mushi, to derive the simplicity of using basic natural elements to create a dwelling with a small carbon footprint. It does not depend on advanced technology, but carefully considers material composition, the shape, and configuration of the building. 


In terms of material, the dwelling is made from wood planks and dowels, with straw insulation within the walls for insulation. These locally acquired natural resources can be reused and recycled. In addition, the wood cladding camouflages the dwelling into the surrounding environment. 


The shape of Mino House is triangular for a few reasons. By having a smaller volume of air at the top, more heat is retained where the occupant is during the cold months. In addition, this shape minimizes unnecessary surface area to reduce heat loss, while also reducing the construction material required. During the warm months, hot air rises quickly and vents out through the skylight. 


The ends of the dwelling are each composed of two layers. The inner layer is of glazing, allowing light and air into and through the space. The outer layer is a perforated wood plank door which can remain propped open during the warmer seasons. This door can be closed at night and when the weather is cool, to provide privacy and protection from heat loss, while still allowing in natural light. 

In these ways, Mino House relies on natural elements to create a habitable space. Taking advantage of light, air, material, and existing temperature variations, the small dwelling unit becomes a non-obstructive visitor in the forest, just as the mino-mushi blends quietly into its environment.

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