We are becoming increasingly concerned about leaving our ecological footprints behind as housing values rise and the world’s population grows. As a result, we try to think of eco-friendly solutions in our daily lives, but also, more often than not, when designing our perfect home. Sustainable building is quickly becoming the first step toward increasing the use of renewable resources and energy. We see no need to go back now that we’ve gone green!


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Green architecture is becoming more popular as it combines mainstream features (such as modern housing designs and green roofs) with the use of uncommon materials such as cob, straw, bamboo, or wood pallets. Some of the materials are so odd that we would never have considered them if we were planning to build a modern and unique home. The choice of structural materials and the consideration given to energy consumption in the design are usually what defines an eco-friendly building. Alternate houses can be constructed in a variety of ways, like using materials that don’t appear to be a good match at first appearances, such as shipping containers, straw, or clay. People may discover more about unusual, eco-friendly, and weird alternative dwelling plans in this article.

1. Earth Architecture

What is more environmentally friendly than the earth itself? Earth dwellings, which are constructed using the earth beneath our feet, are an excellent example of sustainable architecture. Earthen structures are also among the most durable and long-lasting structures. Cob, rammed earth, and earthbag structures are examples of these construction techniques. Earthbags are a more contemporary take on using soil as a construction material, as compared to the first two, which are constructed with a specific mix of clay.

Cob House- When we hear the term ‘cob home’, one may visualize a house made of corn cobs. The cobs used in the building are different. Here, the term ‘cob’ refers to a material made of straw and soil for green construction. This design is similar to adobe structures, however, unlike adobe, the cob is put in big handfuls to make a unique structure. Houses built of cob usually appear to be made of clay, which is large because they are! Don’t be misled by their appearance; these structures will last for many years.

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Cob House_©Brightly.eco. (2021). brightly.eco/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/cob-houses-1.jpg

Earthbag HouseEarthbag dwellings are not a metaphor for a house built with a single large earthbag, but they are made exactly as they sound – with bags filled with earthy materials layered to form a dwelling. Earthbags can be piled vertically to create straight or curved walls, or they can be constructed into a dome-shaped construction that does not require any additional framework to form a roof. The bags can be filled with a variety of earthy materials, including crushed volcanic rock, which acts as insulation. This type of building is highly ecologically friendly and inexpensive; however, it may not be visually appealing to certain people.

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Earthbag House_©Earthbagbuilding.com. www.earthbagbuilding.com/images/projects/casavergara/casavergara49.jpg

Rammed Earth House– Consider rammed earth homes to be similar to sand sculptures. Instead of flipping a bucket to build a castle, you put the soil inside the walls that already exist. The walls are filled with an earth mixture by hand or machine. After everything has been properly packed, the molds are removed, leaving a very solid, stable earth wall. The procedure can be repeated until the complete house is constructed.

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Earthship House- Although an Earthship seems to be more of a spaceship than a construction method at first glance, Earthships are a type of eco-friendly housing that has become widely popular around the world. This type of building focuses on reusing bottles and tin cans that would otherwise end up in landfills.

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2. Wood Construction

Wood is undoubtedly one of the most versatile and widely used building materials. However, while using wood might be considered a sustainable material, over-harvesting and deforestation can outstrip the ability of forests to recover themselves. As a result, if we want to invest in a wood house, we should adopt materials such as logs or lumber, which may be built from certified sustainably harvested trees or using sustainable building methods.

Cordwood House– Cordwood is a sustainable building technology that uses small pieces of tree trunks and limbs that would otherwise be burned for fuel. With this approach, we may employ a large percentage of any particular tree as well as several species of trees that are not commonly used for building. Cordwood walls are also excellent insulators, giving a natural balance of thermal mass and insulation without requiring any additional processes within or outside the house.

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Cordwood House_©Cordwoodconstruction.org. cordwoodconstruction.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Barchacky-Garden-Cottage-by-Richard-Flatau-3.jpg

Log House- A log house is structurally comparable to a log cabin. However, because the phrase ‘log cabin’ is commonly associated with modest, rustic hunting cabins, it is not preferred by most contemporary architects. Log houses are often constructed using logs that have not been processed into conventional timber.

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TreeHouse- As children, most of us probably fantasized about having our treehouse as a private retreat. Some of us do it even today. Fortunately, the treehouse is no longer used as a child’s hideaway from prying parents. We may now live out our childhood fantasies by relocating to a tree-house dwelling, which is no longer seen as strange, but rather as a normal part of life.

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Wood Pallet House– These houses were created as a low-cost option for disaster relief housing. Because of the eco-friendliness of wood-pallet housing, it can be used to build something more permanent. Wood pallets are incredibly inexpensive and widely accessible. This material is reusable, recyclable, and simple to mix to create a one-of-a-kind, contemporary, and energy-efficient house.

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3. Green Architecture

Green architecture promotes sustainable energy sources, energy conservation, the reuse and safety of construction materials, and the placement of a structure with care for its environmental impact. In general, it is possible to integrate with the roof and walls.

Green Roof House- Green roofs are well-known as a wonderful architectural feature, but this technique offers more advantages than just aesthetics. Green roofs can assist manage stormwater runoff and lessen the urban heat island effect. This roof construction option reflects heat rather than absorbing it, which helps to minimize a building’s cooling expenses. They are also excellent insulators and require little care. And, let’s face it, it looks fantastic!

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Green Roof House_©Wikimedia.org. upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/41/British_Horse_Society_Head_Quarters_and_Green_Roof.jpg

Green Wall House- Living walls are both visually appealing and functional. A green wall on the south side of your building helps minimize cooling expenses in the summer, in addition to converting otherwise wasted space into green space. Most green walls are built in a modular manner, which not only makes them easier to install but also allows the creation of intriguing patterns and designs by combining various plants. 

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4. Straw bale construction

The straw-bale structure is versatile. Straw has several advantages, including the fact that it is inexpensive and provides good insulation. Because of these characteristics, straw construction is considered a sustainable construction approach. More significantly, straw bales are a byproduct of grain farming, so making straw houses is a terrific way to reuse material that would otherwise go to waste.

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5. Bamboo House

Bamboo is a sustainable building material that is more durable than wood, bricks, or even concrete. Bamboo houses are an even more environmentally friendly alternative to wood. Bamboo is an extremely strong construction material, and well-constructed bamboo homes are claimed to endure storms and earthquakes. Treatments increase the endurance of the bamboo and maintain it stronger for at least 70-80 years, with no maintenance required.

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6. Stone House

Stone houses are the most environmentally friendly option available. Stone houses have aesthetic value and do not require further painting because they are built of rocks. They are quite comfy and may be created with locally available materials. Stone houses may store heat within their walls by employing a passive house design. And, while stone houses may appear to be a medieval concept, they are a modern, ecological concept.

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7. Tiny House

Tiny houses have one major advantage: they are incredibly eco-friendly. Sustainable construction materials or repurposed materials can be used to construct a tiny house. These tiny houses are so small that they don’t require expensive heating and cooling systems, can be quickly relocated, and are designed to minimize our carbon impact.

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8. Modular House

Modular houses are not the same as prefabricated houses, which many people are familiar with. Modular houses are built with a contemporary look and an emphasis on the environment in mind. Because eco-friendly homes are frequently smaller than regular homes, they require significantly less energy to heat and cool. Furthermore, because the elements are all designed to fit together perfectly, modular homes reduce the waste associated with traditional building operations.

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9. Shipping-crate House

Shipping-crate houses have become a stylish way of life, thus this type of building is gaining popularity. Not only that, but shipping-crate homes are less expensive than traditional residences, and the final construction has a distinct, modern, industrial appearance. Because of their compact size, these tiny houses are a green building approach, and some enthusiasts go so far as to add solar panels, green insulation, and rainwater harvesting systems to make them even more eco-friendly.

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10. Hemp Concrete House

Hemp concrete was created as an alternative to standard concrete because it requires a lot of energy to make. Hemp concrete is a combination of hemp, water, and limestone that is unexpectedly more durable than conventional concrete. This substance is supposed to be resistant to fire, mold, and insects when used to build walls. Since hemp is prohibited to cultivate, hemp concrete may be more expensive than conventional concrete.

Hemp Concrete House_©Canberratimes.com.au. www.canberratimes.com.au/images/transform/v1/crop/frm/eV5wxSqxRk6zfLmD5bhc9J/b2144d77-d206-4f7e-9616-046b0f96a16f.jpg/r0_192_3600_2224_w1200_h678_fmax.jpg

So, which type of alternative housing grabbed your interest the most? Some of the architectural concepts listed above are popular because they combine sustainability, modernity, and a lot of fun. While a treehouse is every child’s fantasy, living in a tent is certainly a great option. In addition to traditional four-stone walls, there are numerous housing options available nowadays. The opportunities for doing so are plentiful!


  • Kar, S. (2017). 30 Inexpensive But Realistic Alternative Housing Ideas to Consider. [online] Homesthetics – Inspiring ideas for your home. Available at: https://homesthetics.net/alternative-housing/
  • Lifehack. (2016). Millennial Mindset: 22 Ways to Embrace Alternative Living. [online] Available at: https://www.lifehack.org/465651/millennial-mindset-22-ways-to-embrace-alternative-living
  • MorningChores. (2016). 24 Realistic and Inexpensive Alternative Housing Ideas. [online] Available at: https://morningchores.com/alternative-housing/.
  • Housebuyfast.co.uk. (2014). Can’t Afford Traditional Housing? – Alternative Housing Ideas. [online] Available at: https://housebuyfast.co.uk/blog/cant-afford-traditional-housing-alternative-housing-ideas/

Subhashinee is an Architect, Researcher, and Stereotype breaker. Deeply passionate about sustainability and environmental psychology. She is curious to learn new things in life that enhance her. An avid observer, she prefers writing over speaking. She believes that architectural journalism is as important as architectural design, as it binds knowledge providers with seekers.

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