Cooking the iconoclast way, in yurts, tepees, and more
By Lessley Anderson and Roxanne Webber
It used to be that only hippies grooved on stuff like rainwater filtration systems and solar panels. Finally the rest of the world is catching on. Here are 13 forward-thinking kitchens we feel best exemplify the hippie builder aesthetic: Their construction and function are in harmony with the Earth, they use few (or no!) nonrenewable resources, they’re built from reclaimed materials, and they don’t conform to mainstream ideas about kitchens. Plus, they look awesome.
The Taos County, New Mexico–based Phoenix is an Earthship, a sustainable architectural style that incorporates used car tires and adobe. The circular shapes in the walls are recycled bottles that act as mini stained-glass windows.
Photograph by Kirsten Jacobsen
This kitchen in northern Idaho is on the main floor of a bilevel yurt. The lower floor has round concrete walls and a slab foundation; the fabric yurt sits on top. The ladder at right goes up to the loft. Photograph by Anne Byers via Living in the Round
The owners of this yurt in Sandpoint, Idaho, have gradually built their homestead within their means, leaving them with little overhead or debt. The kitchen has homemade cabinetry, and the couple installed their own plumbing and electrical systems. The space is housed in a 30-foot fabric yurt, which the couple insulated with felt. Photograph by Anne Byers via Living in the Round
Tony and Faith Wrench’s That Roundhouse in Wales is a circular room made of cob (mud mixed with sand and straw) and recycled wood. Pipes through the wall take gray water into a reed bed. Water is solar-heated and stored in an oak brandy barrel. Photograph by Tony Wrench
Jamaica-based Patrick Stanigar’s geodesic dome only has one living space, so Stanigar conceals kitchen items in wedge-shaped cabinets. More storage is in standard metal tool cabinets on wheels. Photograph by David Cuthbert
Pangaia is an ecovillage in the jungle on the Big Island of Hawaii that uses rainwater and solar power. The kitchen is open, and connects directly to the vegetable garden. Photograph by Kathy Vashro
A cob cottage built by Meka Bunch in Wolf Creek, Oregon, has a passive cooling device that acts as the refrigerator: It’s a shelf (left of the sink) backed by a screen open to the outside. In the summer Bunch covers the screen with wet burlap and the device serves as an air conditioner. Photograph by Chris McClellan
This kitchen is in an otherwise fairly conventional central Maine farmhouse. It has an Amish wood-burning cookstove, poured concrete countertops, and a 400-pound retrofitted antique mop sink. The owners have a gas stove but more typically use the wood-burning stove—particularly in the winter—to cook food and heat the house. Photograph by Daniel Wescott
Eryn is one of two spherical tree houses on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The galley area has a microwave and a water dispenser with a small refrigerator underneath it. Tom Chudleigh, the owner and inventor of the spheres, says that they are designed to “fit harmoniously into a forest setting without altering it.” Photograph by Jasper Bosman
This mobile kitchen by Austin, Texas, green architecture firm the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems has its sink, stove, and counter space on casters so they can be rolled outside. A solar oven (the shiny object) is on the upper decks; the bucket is a water-collection cistern. Photograph by Paul Bardadjy
In the kitchen shed of Red Earth Farms, an off-the-grid intentional community in Missouri, a secondhand electric oven has been gutted and retrofitted with cob and a stovepipe. It’s heated with wood. Vegetarian perishables are kept cool in a bucket in a hole in the ground. Photograph by Kim Scheidt
This 615-square-foot tepee in southwest Colorado (no longer standing) uses a Hoosier baking cabinet (center) and pie safe (brown cabinet, right) to keep critters away from the food, since there’s no refrigerator—or electricity. Cooking is done on a six-burner wood cookstove and the central wood stove (pictured). Photograph by Martha Federson