Created by Dutch designer, Floris Schoonderbeek, the Groundfridge is a newly designed refrigeration unit based upon the same principles as traditional root cellars. Buried into the earth, the refrigerator relies on the coolness of the ground to preserve its contents, rather than electricity, much like the way cellars were used long before modern refrigeration. The Groundfridge signals a shift in energy consumption from high-powered electrical units to something more sustainable. This allows for households to not only save a ton on electricity but allows for users to reduce their carbon footprint effectively and comfortably.
The refrigerator, created for Dutch brand, Weltevree, features a spherical design that encapsulates wooden shelves built to store food and drinks. A small staircase leads down to the base, allowing for it to be easily accessed once it’s been buried in the ground. Designed to be placed into a hillside rather than flat earth, the door sits at a 45 degree angle and can be swung open to reveal the steps. After it’s been installed and completely covered, only the door can be seen from ground level, which seals shut to keep the temperature cold and prevents the heat from above from entering and the cold air within from escaping.
The fridge is designed to function year round without relying on any sort of electrical power. Due to thermal inertia, temperatures remain constant and keep contents cold enough to be stored safely. According to Weltevree, once buried, the temperatures of the Groundfridge stay between 10 and 12 degrees celsius. At this temperature, things like produce and vegetables can be stored, as well as foods like wine and cheese.
Though the Groundfridge is at the mercy of the elements and mother nature, it’s strong construction ensures it’s protected against growing roots of nearby plants and trees—made of a lightweight, laminated polyester material, it’s designed to be extremely durable.
Unlike modern, electric-powered refrigerators in the home, Weltevree claims the storage capacity is equal to that of approximately 20 standard fridges and can hold up to 500 kilograms of food, if you so choose—that’s roughly equal to about 350 meals and enough to feed a family of five. It can even store the entire harvest of a 250 square metre vegetable garden.
The concept for the Groundfridge was born after Schoonderbeek switched to a self-providing food chain. Realizing the loss of storage facilities for his fresh produce, he set out to solve the problem in a sustainable way. Taking cues from the proven techniques of traditional root cellars, he incorporated them into the modern and minimalistic design you see today.
During October of 2015, the fridge could be seen on display at the Veemgebouw in Eindhoven as part of a showcase of projects shortlisted for the 2015 Dutch Design Awards. The showcase was a part of that year’s Dutch Design Week that ran from October 17 to 25.
Past winners of the Dutch Design Awards include Iris van Herpen, whose collection of 3D-printed garments won her the Golden Eye Prize.
Tim Aldiss writes for Langley Domestic Appliances.