Tiny Houses

Source: The New Yorker

ANNALS OF DESIGN about Jay Shafer and the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Tiny houses are built on trailer platforms. Typically, they are between a hundred and a hundred and thirty square feet, roughly the size of a covered wagon. They aren’t toys or playhouses or aesthetic gestures, and they aren’t shacks or cottages, either. Shacks don’t have kitchens and bathrooms, and a cottage is larger than a tiny house. There are between several hundred and a thousand tiny houses in the United States. People who live in tiny houses, or aspire to, appear to fall into one of three overlapping categories. The first consists of young people who see a tiny house as a means of owning a place while avoiding property taxes and maybe rent, since they can often find places to park their house free. The second group includes older men and women who have either sold or walked away from a house they couldn’t afford. The third group is composed of people determined to live environmentally responsible lives—to live “lightly,” as they put it. The rhetoric of modern tiny-house living begins with the assertion that big houses, aside from being wasteful and environmentally noxious, are debtors’ prisons. Their owners work in order to afford them, and when they actually occupy them they’re anxious. Tiny houses are luxurious, because they are easier to take care of and allow their (presumably debt-free) owners to spend more money on pleasures. Jay Shafer is the brainy misfit behind the tiny-house trend and the builder of the most stately tiny houses. He built his first tiny house in Iowa, in 1999, and lived in it for five years. It was a hundred and ten square feet. Shafer has lived in three tiny houses. He owns a design-and-build company called Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, and he has built sixteen tiny houses. Tumbleweed offers plans for seven tiny houses. In the past year, it has sold a thousand plans, but Shafer doesn’t know how many houses have been built from them. Shafer designs by subtraction. He began drawing imaginary houses, and they grew smaller as he started “to figure out what I could get rid of—mostly square footage, because a lot of space wasn’t used that efficiently.” His galvanizing imperative came when he learned, around 1999, that the houses he was drawing and not showing to anyone would violate building codes. Also tells about tiny houses built by Jay King in Danbury, Connecticut, and Elizabeth Turnbull in New Haven. Read more…

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Cabin fever: I want a tiny home

Source: The Guardian

The house that haunts my imagination is a small wooden cabin on a snow-covered hillside in Sogn go Fjordane, on the coast of Norway. It appears to be about 8ft x 12ft; its gabled roof is covered in vegetation; smoke drifts from a narrow chimney. And then there’s the view: it looks out over a vast, fir-covered valley and to the mountain beyond, so high it vanishes into clouds. The only problem with my plan to go and live in this cabin – which I found, among hundreds of others, on a photoblog entitledCabin Porn – is that it already belongs to someone else. Actually, that’s not the only problem. Travelling there, or travelling to anywhere else from there, would be prohibitively expensive. The isolation from friends and family could be tough, and earning an income might be impossible; I bet you can’t get broadband, either. But at the end of a frazzled day at my desk, fielding emails and phone calls, and despairing at my lengthening to-do list, such obstacles don’t register, and I once again start plotting an escape to “my” tiny cabin. Part of the appeal, certainly, is that it’s in the mountains, far from the cacophony of the city. But the other major draw is that it’s tiny. Read more…

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Container Houses

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The rise of compact living in Tokyo

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Tour of Shafer’s tiny house

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