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5 Things Architecture Can Learn from the Tiny House Movement

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.

5 Things the Tiny House Movement Can Learn from Post War Architecture

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.

Finnish Student Olli Enne's prototype for a small, prefabricated home which can fill leftover space within existing neighborhoods. Image © Marko Laukkarinen A two-story WikiHouse produced for last year's London Design Festival. Image © Margaux Carron www.margauxcarron.com Design for HiveHaus, a modular home featured on the UK television show "George Clarke's Amazing Spaces". Image via Hivehaus Quixote Village in Olympia, Washington. Image © Leah Nash for BuzzFeed

Tiny-House Villages: Safe Havens for the Homeless

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.

Big Ideas, Small Buildings: Some of Architecture's Best, Tiny Projects

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.

Terunobu Fujimori, Beetle's House, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK. Image Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London/TASCHEN Jorge Gracia, Endémico Resguardo Silvestre, Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada, Mexico. Image © Undine Pröhl/TASCHEN Kota Mizuishi, Riverside House Suginami, Tokyo, Japan. Image © Hiroshi Tanigawa/TASCHEN Olson Kundig, Delta Shelter, Mazama, Washington, USA. Image © Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects/TASCHEN

Tiny Houses: Downsizing The American Dream

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.