Tiny Houses: The Latest Architecture and News
Until recently, the origins of the tiny-house movement were of little interest to the scientific community; however, if we take a look at the history of architecture and its connection to the evolution of human lifestyles, we can detect pieces and patterns that paint a clearer picture of the foundations of this movement that has exploded in the last decade as people leave behind the excesses of old and opt for a much more minimalist and flexible way of life.
It is becoming a priority for architects to optimize projects that require increasingly smaller spaces, especially when building in urban areas where land value is often the most critical factor. This happens in countries like Portugal, for example, where urban plots are scarce and the properties available for remodeling are usually very small.
Working on a small scale offers somewhat playful flexibility. From adaptable interiors to urban installations and treehouses, one must use the imagination to solve the issues of limited space or budget. Check out the following 15 projects in Portugal —from stores to small pavilions— that show that spatial limitations do not diminish the quality of architecture.
According to the United Nation’s “The World’s Cities in 2018”, it is estimated that, “by 2030, urban areas are projected to house 60 percent of people globally and one in every three people will live in cities with at least half a million inhabitants.” Also, between 2018 and 2030, it is estimated that the number of cities with 500,000 inhabitants or more is expected to grow by 23 percent in Asia. China, as the largest economy in Asia, with a GDP (PPP) of $25.27 trillion, is expanding rapidly, both economically and demographically.
With more and more migrant workers coming into the bigger cities in China, it has become increasingly difficult for workers to find an affordable place to live. Some people decide to move away from urban centers and bear with the lengthy commute time, while others are seeking creative design solutions to transform their home into a tiny, functional space to meet their daily needs.
In all cities around the world, there are some forms of residual space, forgotten pieces of the urban fabric, remnants of overlapping layers of past development. This land whose conditions make it unsuitable for most types of conventional construction might be a fertile ground for architectural invention. Assigning a new value to vacant corner lots, dead-end alleys and strangely shaped plots opens up a new field of opportunities for inward urban development, expanding available living space and increasing amenities in densely populated cities. The following explores the potential for experiment and urban activation held by urban leftover space.
In residential architecture, there have always been central, indispensable spaces and peripheral spaces more easy to ignore. When designing a home, the task of the architect is essentially to configure, connect, and integrate different functions in the most efficient way possible, necessarily prioritizing some spaces over others. And although today many are designing in ways that are increasingly fluid and indeterminate, we could say that the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen are the fundamental nucleus of every house, facilitating rest, food preparation, and personal hygiene. Then meeting spaces and other service areas appear, and with them lobbies, corridors, and stairs to connect them. Each space guides new functions, allowing its inhabitants to perform them in an easier and more comfortable way.
However, fewer square meters in the bathroom could mean more space for the living room. Or, eliminating some seemingly expendable spaces could give more room for more important needs. In an overpopulated world with increasingly dense cities, what functions have we been discarding to give more space to the essentials? Here, we analyze the case of the laundry room, which is often reduced and integrated into other areas of the house to give space for other functions.
Bali-based Stilt Studios has begun construction on a new prefabricated tiny house made out of recycled Tetra Pak cartons. The team has also launched a Kickstarter campaign to create awareness for the use of recycled materials. Designed to promote local, circular economies, the first prototype is now being built and sales of the tiny house will commence in October this year.
The issue of the housing deficit plagues virtually all countries today. According to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute, 330 million urban families worldwide lack decent housing, or housing costs are so heavy that they need to forgo other basic needs such as food, heath care, and education for children. According to the WRI (World Resources Institute), it is estimated that 1.6 billion people will lack adequate housing by the year 2025.
Solving this problem is, understandably, complex. Having good housing means much more than simply having a roof over your head. Good housing is essential for physical and financial security, economic productivity, and human well-being. In addition to adequate comfort, it is essential that these houses are integrated with the city, jobs, infrastructure, and city services. For people living on the street, this issue is even more delicate. Among many other necessities, having a place to structure a life is essential to moving forward and prospering. One project that confronts this issue is Emerald Village Eugene (EVE), an affordable micro-housing community with a unique housing model structured to enable residents to transition from the streets.
Dense cities mean small homes. With more and more frequency we are forced to adapt to spaces within which some elements simply do not fit. As architects, these restrictions actually provide us with opportunities and remind us that our goal is to give precise solutions to specific problems. Designing with infinite number square meters and/or an unlimited budget is practically unheard of.
What's the key to accommodating everything? Let's review some effective storage solutions for minimum, tight spaces.