Imagine a fridge which doesn’t require any electricity. It makes no annoying hum. It never spoils your food if there’s a power cut. Imagine a fridge which stores a vast quantity of food: its 3000 litre capacity can hols maybe 20 times the capacity of a regular fridge. Imagine a Groundfridge.
The Groundfridge is an enormous, laminated polyester structure, similar in shape to a tipped-over lightbulb. The most bulbous end is the larder area, lined with shelves and plenty of standing space for the user. The narrower end is a staircase which descends from an opening in the earth, allowing access to the even-deeper-in-the-ground larder area. It’s a very cool (forgive the pun) design: sleek white walls and curved wooden shelves, and the walls are impermeable to roots, so it cannot be damaged by plants growing around it (though it’s not going to win any points amongst claustrophobics).
Floris Schoonderbeek took inspiration from old fashioned root cellars, which are underground storage systems to keep food cool. The thermal inertia of the underground environment keeps the temperature consistent, regardless of the seasons above ground. Food in the Groundfridge stays between 10 and 12 degrees celsius if the air temperature is anywhere between -10 and 35 degrees celsius. While that may not be cool enough to safely store meat, fish and other fast-perishing items, it is highly effective for preserving the life of vegetables, cheese, fruits, and wine. But who’s going to miss a bacon sandwich when they can enjoy sweet pears, perfectly ripe cheese, tangy chardonnay and barbecued corn on the cob? Not such a bad lot, really.
Its charm lies in its simplicity; this eco-friendly gadget fulfils a modern need but utilises traditional methods. With increasing numbers of people these days keeping their own chickens for eggs, and longer waiting lists than ever for allotments, self-sufficiency is an attractive prospect to many. Those with the land resources to grow their own produce (and accommodate this chilly hobbit hole) could find it an invaluable addition to their lives. The manufacturers claim that the Groundfridge can hold the entire harvest from a 250 metre square garden. Without adequate storage, those who toil in the soil can be faced with food wastage when a glut of produce matures all at once, and cannot all be eaten before it spoils. The alternatives are multiple electric fridges, an unlikely choice for the environmentally conscious, or long days preserving fruits in jams and vegetables in vinegar. The Groundfridge certainly provides more flexibility than the latter, and is an easier, more convenient solution – once it’s installed, of course! If you wish to go ahead with the latest range of refrigerators, then you can take a look at Langley Domestic Appliances.
Schoonderbeek’s fridge design, now manufactured by Weltevree, was shortlisted for the 2015 Dutch Design Awards.