Urban rooftops are generally under-utilized spaces, and no doubt could be better used as rooftop urban farms or set aside for micropower generation. Of course, homes can be built right on rooftops too, as we've seen with Barcelona's transformer and prefab apartments, which allow the city to build up, rather than sprawl out.
Seen over at Designboom, New York City based Clear Studios created Jewel Box, a "balanced living space" where the concept of shelter is simplified but still includes all the basics like food production, energy generation and water collection.
Built on top of a 1,400-square-foot roof in Guatemala City’s Zona 4 district, the two-level Jewel Box is a prototype for harmonious living that uses recycled materials like wine bottles (cast with concrete much like an earthship wall), reclaimed windows and wooden pallets. Totalling about 100 square feet of space, there's areas for entry, another for work, and another for sleeping and meditation.
To promote a sense of harmony and connection with the outdoors, vertical gardens surround the home. A "zen garden" provides plants for tea, while the structure's roof offers a space for meditation, and a "sculpture" for capturing solar energy, and gutters for water collection. This water is collected and used in the shower, which is then piped out to water the gardens.
The prototype was built in collaboration with local builders and residents as a way to promote eco-friendly ideas and construction methods, especially relevant as this neighbourhood is rapidly developing. Their aim is to pilot this type of balanced living pod all over the city and in other cities around the world, say the designers:
A Jewel Box supports the planet with both high-tech sustainable technology and back to basics construction methods. It employs simple design elements that raise conscious awareness of our personal interactions with the world around us. Jewel Box Project creates an international connection point for dialogue around our relationship with the earth, how we construct a home, and how we use urban space. The project aims to inspire people to take ownership and create a city in which they wish to live.
Boasting some foundational sustainable design ideas that are built with simple, salvaged materials and "back to basics" construction techniques, the Jewel Box's potential impact could be enormous as a rooftop dwelling concept in developing cities around the world. See more images over at Designboom and Clear Studios.