Eco-tourism and other forms of responsible tourism are growing worldwide, with protected nature areas around the world hitting a mind-boggling 8 billion visitors per year. More and more travellers are opting to spend time in natural places, but not always in a way that minimizes environmental impact and has a positive effect on local communities. As part of an innovation initiative supported by the Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto (UPTEC), Portuguese startup Ecocubo created this 96-square-foot structure of the same name that's intended to serve as eco-friendly accommodations for travellers staying in natural settings.
Designed by architect António Fernandes, Ecocubo is a modular cabin that's built out of wood and cork. It's easy to assemble and can be prefabricated and hauled onto the site. Its use of warm, natural materials on the exterior helps its boxy form blend in with its surroundings.
Inside, the footprint is small to reduce its impact on the environment. But this tiny space is maximized with the use of convertible furniture: a sofa with built-in storage that can transform into a bed; a kitchen counter that hides an extra dining table and seating for when friends come over.
The bathroom is tucked into a corner beside the transformer seating.
The recent growth in eco-tourism has translated into the "glamourous camping" or "glamping" trend, which encompasses anything a bit more comfortable than your regular tent or camper trailer. While some of these glamping options can be larger than necessary, some, like the Ecocubo, are on the smaller side to minimize its ecological impact. Some of these glamping structures are autonomous, in that they generate their own electricity, and have some kind of water and waste management system in place, which the Ecocubo appears to have (it looks like it has a composting toilet at the least, but details over at Designboom were scarce, however). Ecocubo is designed to adapt to any location, the architect writes:
Ecocubo aims to constitute itself as a sustainable building brand identity, and simultaneously as a catalyst for sites with great tourism potential that need infrastructures and support equipment. In this way, the project also shows other places outside the traditional itineraries, contributing to the development of local activities and economies.
For more information, visit Ecocubo.