Tucked into the tree filled mountainside of Colorado stands a tiny little house that is barely noticeable. It stands about ten feet tall and looks as though it has been standing proudly in its place for a hundred years. With tall sturdy wood beams holding together the frame and a large flat roof that is covered with living plants that molds to the surrounding like the earth itself had produced this perfect little hobbit hut. You would think you had gone back in time when you first approach this house and it is designed to be completely green.
The small family that lives in this very small house, at least for American standards, is your pretty normal family, except they have made every change they could possibly stand to live a greener healthier life. “I didn’t think I could do it when the idea was first proposed. It seemed crazy to me to move to the mountains and live like hobbits,” said Gloria Gabossi, the co-owner of the house, “but we just relized how wasteful we were being living in that giant house with just the two of us.”
Gloria Gabossi wasn’t kidding about living in a big house prior to their tiny one now. Before moving to the greener way of life she had been living in a giant five-bedroom, four-bath, three-story house between her and her husband Al. “I just woke up one day and realized that we were living in a house that could support an entire village in some parts of the world. It was then I decided that I need to make a change,” said Al Gabossi, and change they did. The two moved from suburban Arvada, Colorado up to a small town in the mountains they would like to keep nameless says Al Gabossi, “I know that this is an article for a school assignment, but if it is going on the internet I would like to keep it a secret because I would like this place to stay our little hidden gem.”
Little is right, the town is located between Divide and Bust, and just so you get an idea Bust says its population is two, at least the sign does as you enter.
Everything they do is within walking distance in their quiet little town. It is in a location that green goers call a walkers paradise. Everything they could ever need is within walking distance. “We did this for more than one reason,” says Gloria Gabossi, “We both love to go for a long walk for the exercise and the fresh air. As well as we have done our best to minimize our carbon footprint.”
A carbon footprint is the total number of greenhouse gasses produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide, according to timeforchange.org. In other words, this is the total sum of carbon dioxide that your activities create. Everything you do influences how big a footprint you cause with you carbon emissions. For example, your car emits carbon dioxide every time you drive and the food you eat requires carbon emissions to produce. “So our whole plan is to live as natural as possible and with as low a carbon footprint as we possibly can,” said Al Gabossi.
The couple built their 1,000 square foot home about five years ago. The idea of the design is to literally take you back in time about 100 years when living in a 1,000 square foot house didn’t mean that you were poor. The house does seem to support everything you could ever need and then some. “We still tried to have all the normal amenities that you find in any other house, maybe just done a little bit differently,” said Al Gabossi.
The house is setup quite uniquely. As you walk up to the house it looks like a circle house. It has a giant garden out front and is covered by a plethora of plants on the roof. As you enter this little house you soon find out that is actually designed as a spiral, with the beginning in the middle and it jettisons out from there. “Not only is the design eco friendly I found it to be aesthetically pleasing as well,” said Al Gabossi, who designed much of the house himself from suggestions online.
“The house is setup to function much more like a studio apartment, with the entire place really being one big bedroom sectioned into areas according to need,” explained Gloria Gabossi. The house is setup completely open with the front door opening right into the kitchen, which is directly across from the living room that is right around the spiral end from the bedroom with a small bathroom squeezed in between. All the windows in the house are made with a circular design in mind, “the windows are made that way to utilize light, heat and even the ability to see out of the house better,” Said Al Gabossi. The entire house itself is made from what is called earthbags and some sturdy wood beams out front for stability and aesthetics. If your wondering what earthbags are you are not alone. They are big bags that you fill with some type of topsoil or angular gravel or volcanic stone crushed up, then you simple lay them staggered on top of one another like bricks, and cover them with some type of plaster. “The idea actually really spawned from trench warfare where soldiers would layer their bunkers with these bags for warmth, protection and to stay dry,” said Gabossi.
In the case of the Gabossi family they used crushed volcanic rock in their earthbags and sealed it with papercrete. Papercrete is a lot like concrete but it is paper mashed up in water with clay or actual cement added. Of course the family used all recycled paper for this project. “We found most of our paper by using old junk mail or newspapers an magazines,” said Al Gabossi. The combination of the papercrete and the earthbags makes for a highly insulated and green home.
Though they sometimes miss the amenities of living in the city with what they called the easy life, they often enjoy their new clean living. “It has been a very hard adjustment for me in particular to make. I was very used to my big kitchen with all the things you would ever need,” said Gloria Gabossi, “I miss my old kitchen the most of all but the longer I live this lifestyle the easier and more enjoyable it becomes because I feel like I am actually making a difference everyday and with every single thing I do now.”