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Metamorphic Cabin

Linda My Huynh, Robert terHorst, Samson Yan & Taylor Lapierre-Grignon

Metamorphic cabin encapsulates the necessities of everyday living in a natural and self- sustaining system by which the components tailor to the users’ needs. It works with the idea that space is limited, and energy and resources are scarce. By embracing these limitations, our team’s design concept focuses on the incorporation of natural systems and developing a versatile, tiny home that will lend itself to ever-changing forms of a living environment that not only causes minimal affect to nature but exists in harmony with it.
Our team’s design concept is based on analyzing and further detailing 5 essential components below:
1) Location
2) Spaces
3) Heating & Cooling
4) Water: potable, grey, black and heating
5) Energy / Miscellaneous Systems

1) Location:
The selected site is located in Killarney, Ontario in Canada. This location is in the Northern Hemisphere at +/- 45° Latitude within a Boreal Forest on the Canadian Shield. Several natural elements are found in the surroundings of the site bringing an abundance of freshwater lakes and forests in addition to adequate rainfall to support a growing season with long daylight periods.

2) Spaces
As with the name, Metamorphic Cabin has the ability to transform or “morph” the spaces depending on the users’ needs. This transformation comes in the form of Horizontal and Vertical transitions.
Design features that enable a flexibility in space usage include the following:
o Moving ceiling to change the volume of the space.
 Create a large volume on hot days to dissipate heat
 Create a smaller volume on cold days to conserve heat
 (see Section 3 on “Heating and Cooling”)
o Furniture:
 Murphy bed folds up into slide-away cabinet/wall unit
 Floor panel raises to become a table
 Closet unit can move vertically (between high ceiling, and crawlspace) to increase storage spaces in same volume to take advantage of space below and above the floor

o Door swings to define space:
 Door swing and panel re-defines toilet area to be a wet shower space
 Sliding panel in the moving murphy bed unit defines the bedroom space and links the washroom so it becomes an “ensuite” to the bedroom.

Shower – Adjustable panels

3) Heating & Cooling
With a range of climactic changes in Canada, our team felt it was important to develop a design that maximizes the seasonal components and integrate them into systems to heat and cool the home.
Following the theme of horizontal transitional components, the exterior shading and insulating panels also slide left and right to bring in natural light and ventilation during the day and slide again to maintain heat at night.
The home is also embedded into the landscape so that the constant ground temperature offsets the large fluctuations in air temperature to help with maintaining a more consistent interior environment. The winters can bring very cold air whereas the summers can bring very hot air, yet, the ground temperature remains relatively consistent.
Our team has also looked at the transformation of the tiny home as it adapts to seasonal changes.
Summer: “Keeping Cool” (Heat Dissipation)
• A Large Volume Tall Space:
o Heat rises and is released through vents at the top of the high ceiling
o Home is located in an area and oriented to take advantage of prevailing winds
• Passive solar:
o Deciduous trees located in front of large south facing windows to shade any solar heat gain
• Natural Ventilation by placing home to take advantage of pre-vailing winds
• Pull heat out of space – create a natural Venturi Effect. (high pressure vs low pressure)

Winter: “Hibernation and Cocooning” (Heat Conservation)
• Volume of space transforms into a smaller tighter space.
o The insulated ceiling rotates down to create a small volume and to lower the height of the space – hence not losing heat up in a tall volume.
• Large exterior windows to allow direct sunlight/heat into the home, on sunny days (passive heat gain)
• Exterior windows can be shuttered closed at night (and days with little sun direct sunlight) by sliding insulated panels across the large windows, thus retaining heat gained during the day
• Passive solar (deciduous trees)
o Low sun angle (due to 45° latitude location)
o Sunlight passes through tree branches and enters deep into house.
Winter Day –
Open Exterior Panels to allow sunlight in through large windows

Winter Night -
Close Panels to insulate home (Cocooning effect)

4) Water
• Potable water:
From ground-well to sinks
o Small storage tank/filter in crawl space)
• Grey Water:
o Collect rainwater from roof to rain barrel to be stored in cistern in crawl space
o Pumps for circulating grey water to water heating tank (above stove in winter)
o Pumps for circulating grey water to “drain-back” solar panel (summer and on and sunny days)
o Grey water to be used for shower, watering plants, and toilet tank
o Holding tank/cistern in crawl space
• Black Water:
o Disposes to septic field system
Heating of Water – Two Systems
1) Solar: Drain back solar thermal system
2) Wood stove heat recovery system

Drain Back Solar thermal system
Wood stove heated water

Active Direct System – Solar water heating

5) Energy / Miscellaneous systems
The design home makes use of natural resources forming a system that works together to generate a comfortable living environment for the inhabitants. The following are the energy components that make up part of the system:
• Electricity production:
o Photovoltaic cells
o Panels also act as a sun shade over outdoor patio
o Battery storage (in crawl space)

• Lighting: LED lights

• Food:
o Small Bar fridge
o Cold storage in crawl space
o Stored winter lake ice for summer use in the cold room storage area

• Cooking:
o Induction hot plate (cooking in summer)
o Wood burning stove (cooking and heating in winter)
o Draw heat from chimney for water heating (winter)

• Laundry:
o Washer with centrifugal spin dryer
o Clothes line (final drying outdoors or indoors)

• Electrical water pumps
o To move water through the various systems

Our team has approached the design exercise with the notion that limited space does not necessarily need to compromise quality of life. A comfortable dream home could still be achieved by transforming the spaces to adjust to different lifestyles, times of day, user preference and seasonal changes. This, in combination with the use of natural resources within close reach and being tucked away in the serene landscape, Metaphoric Cabin aims to redefine the parameters of space, comfort, and sustainability.

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