Green Retreat

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Fig: 1 – Late work cultures a new normal - Illustration


Somewhere within the fast-paced world of today, we have lost touch with ourselves, and instead of trying to live our lives we all try to race and excel at something that is someone else’s interest.

With all the work that comes with our lives, our health takes a back seat.
A lot of our lives have become sedentary and even those who are not, have lost the gratification it once gave, and in both cases, work has taken a toll on our health.

Vacation is a recent invention although not entirely alien, that the past couple of centuries have seen. It is an essential break taken from one’s routine life to rejuvenate themselves from the wear and tear their work afflicts one with.

But as all good things come to an end; vacations have a limit to them too. How can great architecture boost our vacation experiences?

Fig: 2 - Definition of Burnout through Scrabble letters - Illustration


While goal chasing is an accepted reality in the world we live in, it is not unusual to face something called burnout every now and then. Be it anyone, kids – adults this phenomenon may occur across multiple age groups.

To vent this burn, a disconnect is needed which materializes itself in the form of a vacation. And hence, they straight away become the go-to destination for balancing out this daily wear day-to-day work causes on us.

But with an entire world population pushed to their limits with work, this collective travel can cause rupture to other things about the planet. Can vacation experiences enhance the places they are curated in? Can tourism ever be sustainable? Can retreats be more accountable for their ecological footprints?

While delivering great retreat experiences, can we sensitize people about their footprint on the planet?

Fig: 3 - Impact on camping sites - An illustration (Credits - Yourconroenews)


With this ever-rising demand for green getaways; many times, humans unknowingly ruin the existing and accessible ones. Which eventually poses a threat to the untouched parts of nature that remain. To go off-grid, one will only be left with so many places to set up a camp or have a picnic.

As humans, it is our responsibility to make it as harmless and untouched of a process as we can make it.

Several technologies, construction processes, and materials have been developed/evolving since the crisis of environmental decline came to attention. The push to achieve net-zero habitats hence took its shape to create impact less human habitats in the broader sense.

But with such an ambitious goal, net-zero buildings have a really huge challenge to mitigate consumption, waste, and life cycle impact on a daily basis.

How can we implement the same challenge on the architecture of a net-zero idea of a vacation?

Fig: 4 - The unadulterated nature - An impression of Alaska


The design challenge here is to create a net-zero off-grid retreat that is safe yet provides requisite necessities to balance nature with human life.

The retreat is expected to be planned in all aspects of how humans can be sensitized to living with nature, at the same time how it is planned right from its inception to its day-to-day running.

The participants are expected to pick at least 3 crucial facets which are prone to disrupt nature (for eg. energy, waste management, food consumption, materials used, construction process, etc.) while building or running such a retreat.

Net-zero, is a tough challenge to solve, and it can’t be until engineering and architecture both come together to solve this issue. How can design help us move closer to net-zero at the same time define how holiday retreats to be really built in the years to come?


Context - Solution relies on locally available resources, on the immediate environment, and on identifiable needs.
Form and Materiality - Apply form and materiality that is culturally and climatically appropriate even if unconventional.
Balance - Environmental, economic and social sustainability.

Net Zero Strategies - Incorporating traditional and unconventional technologies to move towards off-grid sustainability.


The site is located in the outskirts of Fairbanks, Alaska. The site is close to the city of Fairbanks and conceived to be a weekend retreat for the inhabitants or campers. The design is expected to develop a framework of strategies that can be implemented in similar peripheral urban locations. Participants are expected to research and understand the climate, flora, fauna, availability of materials in the region before proceeding to the design.

Site area - ~7289 sqm
FAR (Floor area ratio) - 0.25
Ground coverage - 40%
Height Restriction - 7m
Coordinates - Maps


The objective here is to design a retreat with a capacity of holding 30 units. A unit can be family-sized or couple, this distribution is up to the participants.

Common spaces to commune or to eat can also be provided within the limits. Design a cottage that’s off-grid and is a net-zero structure.

The cottage’s minimum requirements must be:

  1. A living space
  2. One bedroom with attached bathroom
  3. A kitchenette
  4. A patio/rooftop

Participants may add their own activities and allied services to develop this retreat. This can include service areas, common areas, open-air theatres, etc.