In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) and Valldaura Labs in Spain, was inspired to create The Voxel Quarantine Cabin. Located just outside of Barcelona, this structure was designed to accommodate one occupant for 14 days, which not only offers comfortable self-confinement but also showcases the potential of a circular bio-economy in construction. A team of students and researchers from the Institute completed the solar-powered Voxel in mid-2020 in just 5 months, which is built entirely of hyper-local structural cross-laminated timber (CLT) made of Aleppo Pine that was harvested within a radius of less than 1 kilometer from the construction site.
To further reduce the Voxel Quarantine Cabin’s carbon footprint, the design team used lap joints and wooden dowels instead of metal connections to fasten together the CLT panels. Cork insulation is sandwiched between the structural frame and rain-screen panels made from waste material produced during the CLT production process. The exterior panels were also charred with the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban method (an ancient Japanese technique for waterproofing and preserving wood) for increased durability. The Voxel Quarantine Cabin is equipped with three solar panels, independent battery storage as well as a sustainable water system that collects rainwater, recycles gray water, and treats black water within a self-contained biogas system.
The Voxel’s battery storage system is designed specifically to meet the energy needs of a single resident. An autonomous biogas system treats sewage and generates fuel for cooking and heating. Furthermore, The roof of the cabin features a series of garden boxes with elaborate joints milled with computer-numerical-control (CNC) machinery (no screws, no glue), which hold a variety of local plants, further highlighting the striking sustainable aspects of The Voxel Quarantine Cabin.
For more interesting architecture, check out The Meteorite, situated in the Finnish countryside.