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He was a bike nomad. Now revamps derelict Alpine farmstead

After spending years cycling around the world, Martijn Doolaard was ready for a more permanent home and he wanted something with a view. Remembering the rough beauty of the peaks of Val Pellice from a bike trip, Doolaard discovered dozens of “dirt cheap” abandoned homes for sale and bought two at the top of a mountain beyond the electric grid.

Originally built as shelters for farmers and their animals, his cabins are dry stone: stacked stones supported by their own weight without any mortar. The structures were in good shape, but filled with holes between the stones letting in cold and wind, so Doolaard set up camp inside one, using his tent and technical sleeping bag from his bikelife days to begin renovating (Martijn’s video series).

He bought second-hand solar panels that he pre-setup so he could simply plug and play to have power from day one. These provided sufficient power for a few power tools, his lighting, and laptop. He invested in a wood-burning stove for heat and a bottle of propane for cooking. He uses his phone as a hotspot to continue to do his graphic design work remotely.