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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Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Norway Opens Another Spectacular Roadside Bathroom
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen

Norway’s National Tourist Routes will change how you think about rest stops. As part of a decades-long program, the Norwegian government has been hiring architects and designers to create beautiful roadside lookouts, bathrooms, and other amenities for travelers along 18 scenic highways throughout the country. One of the latest of the projects unveiled, spotted by Dezeen, is a glitzy restroom located on the Arctic island of Andøya in northern Norway.

The facility, designed by the Oslo-based Morfeus Arkitekter, is located near a rock formation called Bukkekjerka, once used as a sacrificial site by the indigenous Sami people. The angular concrete and steel structure is designed to fit in with the jagged mountains that surround it.

The mirrored exterior wall of the bathroom serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it reflects the scenery around the building, helping it blend into the landscape. But it also has a hidden feature. It’s a one-way mirror, allowing those inside the restroom to have a private view out over the ocean or back into the mountains while they pee.

The newly landscaped rest area near the bathroom will serve as an event space in the future. The Bukkekjerka site is already home to an annual open-air church service, and with the new construction, the space will also be used for weddings and other events. Because this is the Arctic Circle, though, the restroom is only open in the late spring and summer, closing from October to May. Check it out in the photos below.

A bathroom nestled in a hilly landscape
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

The mirrored facade of a rest stop reflects concrete steps leading down a pathway.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A person stands outside the bathroom's reflective wall.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A wide view of a rest stop at the base of a coastal mountain
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Trine Kanter Zerwekh / Statens vegvesen

[h/t Dezeen]

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Snøhetta
Norway's New Hotel in the Arctic Circle Will Produce More Energy Than It Uses
Snøhetta
Snøhetta

A new hotel coming to Norway’s section of the Arctic Circle will be more than just a place to stay for a stunning fjord view. The Svart hotel, which is being billed as the world’s first "energy-positive" hotel, is designed to “set a new standard in sustainable travel,” according to Robb Report.

Built by a tourism company called Arctic Adventure Norway and designed by Snøhetta, an international architecture firm headquartered in Oslo, it’s one of the first buildings created according to the standards of Powerhouse, a coalition of firms (including Snøhetta) devoted to putting up buildings that will produce more power over the course of 60 years than they take to build, run, and eventually demolish. It will be located on a fjord at the base of Svartisen, one of the largest glaciers on Norway’s mainland and part of Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park.

A hotel stretches out above the water of a fjord.
Snøhetta

The design of the hotel is geared toward making the facility as energy-efficient as possible. The architects mapped how the Sun shines through the mountains throughout the year to come up with the circular structure. When the Sun is high in the winter, the terraces outside the rooms provide shadows that reduce the need for air conditioning, while the windows are angled to catch the low winter Sun, keeping the building warm during cold Arctic winters. In total, it is expected to use 85 percent less energy than a traditional hotel.

The sun reflects off the roof of a hotel at the base of a glacier on a sunny day.
Snøhetta

Svart will also produce its own energy through rooftop solar panels, though it won’t have excess energy on hand year-round. Since it’s located in the Arctic Circle, the hotel will have an abundance of sunlight during the summer, at which point it will sell its excess energy to the local electricity grid. In the winter, when it’s too dark for solar energy production, the hotel will buy energy back from the grid. Over the course of the year, it will still produce more energy than it uses, and over time, it will eventually produce enough excess energy to offset the energy that was used to build the structure (including the creation of the building materials).

“Building in such a precious environment comes with some clear obligations in terms of preserving the natural beauty and the fauna and flora of the site,” Snøhetta co-founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen explains in the firm’s description of the design. “Building an energy-positive and low-impact hotel is an essential factor to create a sustainable tourist destination respecting the unique features” of the area.

Svart is set to open in 2021.

[h/t Robb Report]

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