Vancouver-based Leckie Studio Architecture + Design has founded the Backcountry Hut Company to bring affordable recreation structures to outdoor enthusiasts. Inspired by IKEA's philosophy of providing superior design at a moderate price point, the prefabricated hut prototype aims to embody the company's four cornerstones: function, quality, sustainability, and value.
Following a successful pilot launch in Boston and $1 million in venture backing, a startup company called Getaway has recently launched their service to New Yorkers. The company allows customers to rent out a collection of designer “tiny houses” placed in secluded rural settings north of the city; beginning at $99 per night, the service is hoping to offer respite for overstimulated city folk seeking to unplug and “find themselves.” The company was founded by business student Jon Staff and law student Pete Davis, both from Harvard University, out of discussions with other students about the issues with housing and the need for new ideas to house a new generation. From that came the idea of introducing the experience of Tiny House living to urbanites through weekend rentals.
Inspired by the notion of micro-housing and the powerful rhetoric of the Tiny House movement, initiatives like Getaway are part of a slew of architectural proposals that have emerged in recent years. Downsizing has been cited by its adopters as both a solution to the unaffordability of housing and a source of freedom from the insidious capitalist enslavement of “accumulating stuff.” Highly developed and urbanized cities such as New York seem to be leading the way for downsizing: just last year, Carmel Place, a special micro-housing project designed by nARCHITECTS, was finally completed in Manhattan to provide studio apartments much smaller than the city’s current minimum regulation of 400 square feet (37 square meters). Many, including Jesse Connuck, fail to see how micro-housing can be a solution to urban inequality, yet if we are to judge from the early success of startups like Getaway, micro-architecture holds widespread public appeal. Isn’t user satisfaction the ultimate goal of architecture? In that case, it’s important to investigate the ingenuity behind these undersized yet often overpriced spaces.
As the global economy grows uncertain, homeowners are getting more creative in order to afford essential residential spaces. The tiny house movement has gained a foothold worldwide, encouraging the construction of homes as small as 150 square feet (14 square meters), with many smaller housing models cropping up on a daily basis. Home to residents of all ages, tiny houses have evolved far beyond the cramped quarters of Airstream trailers of decades past and, though they were once considered an architectural farce, tiny houses are becoming an increasingly popular solution to weather the economic storm and increasingly relevant to the field of architecture.
With their increasing respectability - and their popularity increasingly exposing the drawbacks of other housing types - we take a look at some lessons that while key to the tiny house movement, are still applicable in the larger architectural arena. Read on to find out what tiny houses can contribute to the race for better space.
One of the many problems with being deeply engaged in a niche subject such as architecture is that you can easily lose sight of what a "normal" person's perspective is on a topic. Through experience, we often assume that a rising trend that we notice on a daily basis has passed completely unnoticed by the general populace, and it's usually difficult to see when a topic has reached the critical mass to become a genuine social phenomenon. So imagine my surprise when I saw a joke about an architectural trend on a popular webcomic. Two months ago, Toothpaste For Dinner published an image of a character smugly telling his friend "that's cool... my Tiny House is a lot smaller, of course" as they tower over a comically small abode. Suddenly it became clear to me that the Tiny House movement was not just a curiosity for architects.
This realization leads to a number of questions: why are Tiny Houses such a big deal? What promise do they hold for society? And is there anything the movement is failing to address? These questions led me to conclude that, for better or worse, the Tiny House movement might just be the closest thing we have right now to a utopian housing solution - and if that's true, then the movement has a big task on its hands.
As the need for smart housing solutions rises, so does the appeal of tiny-house villages, not just as shelter for the homeless, but as a possible look to the future of the housing sector. The new article, Are Tiny-House Villages The Solution To Homelessness? by Tim Murphy, takes a closer look into the positive and negative aspects of these controversial communities, as well as their social and political ramifications so far. Through interviews with residents of several tiny-house villages, Murphy investigates the current impacts they have had on the homeless populations within major American cities, and questions how the lifestyle will evolve in the future. Read the full article, here.
This post was originally published in The Architectural Review as "Size Doesn't Matter: Big Ideas for Small Buildings."
Taschen’s latest volume draws together the architectural underdogs that, despite their minute, whimsical forms, are setting bold new trends for design.
When economies falter and construction halts, what happens to architecture? Rather than indulgent, personal projects, the need for small and perfectly formed spaces is becoming an economic necessity, pushing designers to go further with less. In their new volume Small: Architecture Now!, Taschen have drawn together the teahouses, cabins, saunas and dollhouses that set the trends for the small, sensitive and sustainable, with designers ranging from Pritzker Laureate Shigeru Ban to emerging young practices.
In the wake of the housing crisis and Recession, the "American Dream" of a super-sized home in the suburbs has lost its appeal; today, it's the "tiny house" that seems more aligned with America's readjusted ideals. Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller, a couple out of Colorado, are just one example of people taking the "tiny" leap - they began the construction of their 124 sq ft. home back in 2011, and their journey has been documented in a new film called "TINY: A Story About Living Small," which premiered on Al Jazeera America last Sunday.