Vollebak Island: the self-sustaining island for humanity of the future

A "rock" off the Canadian coast has become an architectural and social experiment to fight climate change

Vollebak Island: off-grid island
Vollebak Island in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia was designed to be self-sufficient and off-grid, i.e. not connected to the main grid (Photo: Bjarke Ingels Group)

What happens when an innovative clothing brand meets a visionary architecture firm promoting "hedonistic sustainability"? To find out we have to cross the Atlantic and fly to Vollebak Island, Canada. Protagonists: vollebak, a clothing brand born to face the challenges of the next century, from extreme heat waves, to floods and fires, to resource scarcity and space exploration and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), a prestigious Danish studio that has designed works such as Lego house, Google headquarters and the starred restaurant NO BUT.

“Hedonic sustainability” is the essence of Bjarke Ingels' works: a perfect synthesis between the most pressing global problem, the environmental one, and the inevitable human need to seek beauty and playful spirit.

And Vollebak Island is precisely this: not a simple experiment, but a project that aims to demonstrate that sustainability of environmental tourism can coexist with luxury and innovative design.

In the heart of the waters of Nova Scotia in Canada, an extraordinary human and architectural work is rising: Vollebak Island, a self-sufficient and completely "off-grid" island, destined to become a luxury paradise made with 100 percent renewable materials .

Reinventing to innovate: ecological vertical village in Montpellier
Wood City in Helsinki: the architecture of the future passes through wood

Vollebak Island: Wood House
The Wood House on Vollebak Island overlooks the sea, offering a unique view (Photo: Bjarke Ingels Group)

A “Plan for the Planet” and for a rapidly changing world

The idea was born in the offices of Andreas Klok Pedersen, partner and director of design at the renowned architecture and design studio BIG.

The manager has developed a "Plan for the Planet", a sort of step-by-step guide to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, conserve resources and adapt to climate change. The plan divides i environmental problems in ten categories, including energy, transport, food, industry, waste management, pollution, water, biodiversity, housing and health.

The goal of the plan is to address the environmental challenges in order to allow a sustainable life for a projected world population of 10 billion people by 2050. A key element of the plan is the creation of an interconnected global renewable energy network, in which continents complement each other. This approach would make it possible to efficiently exploit the energy resources available throughout the world.

However, to demonstrate the feasibility of this vision, BIG needed a test case. A place where you can put the "Plan for the Planet" into practice on a small scale and demonstrate its effectiveness. And this is how, together with the Vollebak company, the idea of ​​Vollebak Island was born.

"Vollebak Island is the start of a series of extraordinary projects that look at how we will live in the next century in a world of climate change, space travel and resource scarcity,” say the promoters. 

A floating island in the Maldives against rising seas
Thus Tibet plants new forests against climate change

Vollebak Island: Earth House
The Earth House is the main structure of Vollebak Island, nine buildings that integrate with their surroundings (Photo: Bjarke Ingels Group)

Clean energy and green materials: sustainability meets innovation

Vollebak Island covers an area of ​​44.000 square meters and includes two main components: the “Earth House,” a village made up of nine interconnected buildings, and the “Wood House,” a detached suite with a garden on the east coast of the island .

The “Earth House,” the centerpiece of the island, takes its name from its layout, which resembles the shape of a village. This group of buildings is designed to blend into thesurrounding environment, creating open spaces that encourage interaction between guests and the nature.

Each structure within the “Earth House” is made of a unique material, such as seaweed, compacted earth, hemp, glass brick or local stone, tailored to each room's specific use.

On the other side of the island is the “Wood House,” a detached structure with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Its monolithic façade opens towards the sea through a large eight-metre-high triangular window, allowing guests to enjoy spectacular panoramic views.

Regarding energy supply, Vollebak Island relies entirely on renewable energy sources.

Offshore wind energy, geothermal energy and solar energy power the entire complex, with an energy storage system that guarantees total energy independence.

Additionally, the “Earth House” offers a host of luxurious amenities, including a weather-resistant thatched dining room, four bedrooms made from eco-friendly materials such as 3D-printed fire-retardant hempcrete or natural rock , and a Japanese-style bathroom with tubs carved into the rock.

These materials not only give a unique and "wild" appearance to buildings, but above all represent a concrete commitment towards sustainability of environmental tourism. There is also a swimming pool with a glass roof to admire the stars. In June, Vollebak Island was auctioned off from the prestigious auction house Sotheby's. 

Architecture at the service of the climate and man: here is the Klimatorium
Sustainable architecture in Vietnam: the dream waterfront

Vollebak Island: natural materials
The buildings on the Canadian island of Vollebak are constructed of natural materials such as 3D-printed fireproof hempcrete, earth, wood and stone (Photo: Bjarke Ingels Group)

Ingenuity and creativity, this is how the species will face the challenges of the future

The Vollebak Island project demonstrates that to address environmental crises, we must think outside the conventional box and embrace innovative solutions.

Collaboration between disparate sectors, such as clothing and architecture, teaches us that unexpected alliances can lead to extraordinary results in the fight for a more sustainable future, even going so far as to build an island that, despite the challenges of climate change, can offer a technology functional, pleasant and zero impact.

Vollebak Island represents an early, but significant, experiment to test how future humanity can survive and thrive in a technology increasingly fragile and damaged.

A "call to arms" for architects, designers, engineers, citizens and institutions, with the aim of finding concrete solutions and making responsible decisions.

Whether it's clean energy sources, eco-friendly transportation, clothing planet o eco-sustainable flooring, it is human ingenuity and determination that guides us in finding answers to environmental challenges. These tools are at our disposal to shape a healthier planet and demonstrate that when we collaborate and bring creativity into play, there is no challenge we cannot face.

So Big Data will make our concrete much more... green
An unforeseen research building in Dübendorf

The Vollebak Island climate change test (commented)

The Vollebak Island climate change test (not commented)

Vollebak Island: isolation
Vollebak Island's isolation from the mainland and the electricity grid aims to simulate a future in which man will have to do his best to survive in a hostile environment (Photo: Bjarke Ingels Group)