8 Tiny Dwellings That Make Downsizing Look Awesome

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