Most people aspire to live in a big house. In many ways, our culture lives by the motto that bigger is better.
If you stop and think about how you use spaces and how the different functions of your house are connected then you will quickly realize that you don’t need vast amounts of space to live a quality life.
In Europe and much of Asia, there are many examples of extraordinary houses that are actually very small. The big difference however is with the design. In Holland there’s been numerous examples of “tiny houses” that will have most people wanting to live there. Intimate spaces foster a totally different lifestyle.
Living in vast spaces with endless rooms that are rarely used will definitely not create the warmth and livable character that everybody strives for in design.
The top image is Van Bo Le-Mentzel’s 1 square meter house which is part art, part architecture and aims at being a social commentary on the stage of housing in modern cities.
How big is big enough? A question that will probably never have a definite answer but once you see what can be done with minimal amounts of space it will certainly change your perspective of what you do have and what you can do with your own home – even if you think its too small.
In his latest book Small Architecture, Philip Jodidio explores some of the smallest spaces around the world and illustrates how great design can be achieved with minimal size. (all image credits to Tachen)
Here we feature some of the most striking tiny houses that are all livable. Some are very quirky but they all feature some very smart design ideas to make use of the space available (see number 5 and number 9).
1. Endemico Resgaurdo Silvestre Huts – Mexico
Located in the Mexican wine valley they are designed as huts and tourists can stay overnight. Its in an incredible setting which is high on the hilltop. The huts appear to be looking out over the valley and has some breathtaking views. Architect Jorge Gracia Garcia designed the huts to be small so they can be constructed easily on the difficult site but its still provides a lot of luxury with everything you’d expect in a hotel room.
2. This Gulf Islands – British Columbia
What do you really need if you want to escape into the wilderness? In this case, a very small house that basically consists of a wall (for thermal mass), a roof and a wood fired oven. According to the architect Olson Kundig, ‘It’s so small you have to go outside. That’s the point!’
3. Beetle’s House – V&A London
4. The Delta Shelter – Washington.
Located in an absolutely surreal setting, this house/cabin has a very small footprint yet it has everything you need in a home. Designed by architect Olson Kundig it has one very special function. When the house is not inhabited all the doors and windows can be shut by turning a wheel that closes everything with movable shutters.
5. Riverside House – Japan
Designed on a tiny site that’s squeezed in between a road and a river, this house consists largely of a big open plan. With so little space, the majority of its been used as living space and the clever design uses every inch – including the roof space. Its small but incredibly beautiful and very livable.
6. The Hut on Sleds – New Zealand
What makes this house so special is the fact that it can be moved. The threat of coastal erosion in the area means the house might need moving in the future. This drove the design – and the small footprint. Even though the footprint is quite small, the house has a very generous spacial enclosure and looks very inviting.
8. Sauna – Michigan
David Salmela’ Yingst “Sauna” is exactly what you’d expect to see as an old eroded outhouse building in the woods. The difference is that it was designed to look like that. Minimalistic, with the forest canopy allowed to grow on the roof and little more than 1 room and a wood fired oven.
9. House 77 – Portugal
At only 760 square feet, this urban dwelling features a stainless steel-paneled façade with folding metal shutters that really stands out in its urban context. Many urban sites feature narrow blocks that makes designing a generous home quite a challenge. The whimsical cutouts in the steel cladding are of “siglas poveiras,” a “proto-writing” system of communication used in ancient Portugal, help to allow daylight in while still providing privacy from the street.
10. Fireplace for Children – Norway.
The dome-like Fireplace for Children reminds of old Igloo designs – but by using wooden “shingles” (actually recycled timber from a nearby building site). It also reminds of a beehive but the “bees”are meant to be kids. Its located in a kids playground in Trondheim, Norway as a place to warm up from the bitter cold outside. The design is uber cool and spending a night here would be very comfortable even if its below zero outside.
11. Guest House – Denmark
The eloquently designed extension houses the architect’s own studio. Its been carefully set in the coastal slope, and balanced with an adjacent new guest-wing. The new building and terrace become part of a sequence of steps and terraces, meandering down the slope. The use of natural materials and carefully placed windows makes it feel much bigger than it really is.
12. Micro Cabin – Los Angeles
This modern take on an urban “tree house” sits on steel stilts that resemble tree trunks. Its an ultra contemporary design that consists of a wooden box and a floating roof. Its only 170 square feet but feels incredibly spacious with the floating roof which allows light to flood in all day long. It has a sofa/bed, bathroom and a workspace which makes it the perfect urban cabin.