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Noa, Jaanus Orgusaar, Estonia (or anywhere), 2011. Photo: Jaanus Orgusaar, Terje Ugandi
Noa, Jaanus Orgusaar, Estonia (or anywhere), 2011. Photo: Jaanus Orgusaar, Terje Ugandi

8 Tiny Dwellings That Make Downsizing Look Awesome

Noa, Jaanus Orgusaar, Estonia (or anywhere), 2011. Photo: Jaanus Orgusaar, Terje Ugandi
Noa, Jaanus Orgusaar, Estonia (or anywhere), 2011. Photo: Jaanus Orgusaar, Terje Ugandi

While American homes tend to operate on the “bigger is better” principle, there are advantages to going in the opposite direction. Tiny houses are more energy efficient, and often relatively easy to move.

Nanotecture: Tiny Built Things, a new book filled with pint-sized architectural projects, shows just how much you can do with a tiny footprint.

Architects love tiny houses because they create a challenge, and the result is odd, cool buildings. “Tiny built things frequently convey a sense of freedom to experiment without the weighty responsibly of a large budget or complex functional requirements,” author Rebecca Roke writes in the book’s introduction. Here are eight adorable tiny shelters that will make you consider throwing away everything you own.

1. NOA

The wee house pictured in the top image is made of identically-shaped rhombus components: the walls and roof pieces are the exact same. The zig-zag walls create three “feet” that the house rests on instead of a foundation, and because all the pieces are identical, it can be easily extended into a larger space. 

2. READ NEST

Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter, Northern Zealand, Denmark, 2008. Image Credit: Torben Eskerod

A simple vacation cabin in New Zealand spans just 32 square feet and features only the necessities: a bed, a desk, one wall of shelving, and one window. It's the perfect retreat. 

3. THE SPHERE HOUSES

Free Spirit Spheres, Vancouver Island, Canada, 1998. Image Credit: Tom Chudleigh

The Sphere Houses are part of a hotel on Vancouver Island, and feature a bed, a small kitchen, and seating. They’re just 10.5 feet wide and designed to sway a little in the wind—so you’ll never forget that you’re in a tree. 

4. BLOB vB3

dmvA, Flanders, Belgium (or elsewhere), 2009. Image Credit: Frederik Vercruysse

The 66-square-foot Blob was originally created as an office extension for a Belgian design firm. It’s a mobile, energy-efficient space that can be transported on the back of a truck. This one has a bed, a kitchen, and a bathroom, with niches built into the walls that function as shelves. 

5. SPIRIT SHELTER

Allergutendinge, Germany (or elsewhere), 2010. Image Credit:Courtesy Allergutendinge

Designed by a pair of university students in Germany, the Spirit Shelter is a meditation space that you can easily disassemble and move. Meant to be a study space, many of its components serve multiple purposes: The front wall can fold down into a deck, the roof can open into a skylight, and the walls have fold-out furniture like a table and a ladder. 

6. GLASS HOUSE

Santambrogiomilano, Milan, Italy, 2012. Image Credit: Torben Eskerod

A completely transparent house in Milan is made to feel like you’re living directly in the forest. Hopefully there aren’t too many neighbors. 

7. SHELTER NO. 2

Shelter No. 2, Broisson Architects, Naucalpan, Mexico (or elsewhere), 2008. Image Credit: Alejandro Rocha

This three-story, prefabricated house has a lozenge-shaped facade fashioned from recycled material. Built for a family of three, it fits a kitchen, bathroom, study, living area, and bedrooms situated around a central staircase. 

8. TAKASUGI-AN (A TEA HOUSE BUILT TOO HIGH)

Terunobu Fujimori, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, 2004. Image Credit: MASUDA, Akihisa

This tea house in Japan, designed for the architect’s personal use, is less than 10 square feet inside. There’s just enough room to make tea while overlooking the nearby town of Chino. 

Nanotecture: Tiny Built Things ($25 from Phaidon) comes out March 21. 

All images courtesy Phaidon

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
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This Just In
For $61, You Can Become a Co-Owner of This 13th-Century French Castle
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images

A cultural heritage restoration site recently invited people to buy a French castle for as little as $61. The only catch? You'll be co-owning it with thousands of other donors. Now thousands of shareholders are responsible for the fate of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in western France, and there's still room for more people to participate.

According to Mashable, the dilapidated structure has a rich history. Since its construction in the 13th century, the castle has been invaded by foreign forces, looted, renovated, and devastated by a fire. Friends of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a small foundation formed in 2016 in an effort to conserve the overgrown property, want to see the castle restored to its former glory.

Thanks to a crowdfunding collaboration with the cultural heritage restoration platform Dartagnans, the group is closer than ever to realizing its mission. More than 9000 web users have contributed €51 ($61) or more to the campaign to “adopt” Mothe-Chandeniers. Now that the original €500,000 goal has been fulfilled, the property’s new owners are responsible for deciding what to do with their purchase.

“We intend to create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of works, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project,” the campaign page reads. “To make an abandoned ruin a collective work is the best way to protect it over time.”

Even though the initial goal has been met, Dartagnans will continue accepting funds for the project through December 25. Money collected between now and then will be used to pay for various fees related to the purchase of the site, and new donors will be added to the growing list of owners.

The shareholders will be among the first to see the cleared-out site during an initial visit next spring. The rest of the public will have to wait until it’s fully restored to see the final product.

[h/t Mashable]

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