Trailers have a mostly negative reputation, these days, drawing working-class resentment and middle-class contempt. But they once embodied a compact, affordable rendition of the American Dream
. So let's talk about "Tiny Houses" and how it navigates a stigma that must end...
The trailer-trash myth took off after World War II, when soldiers coming back from the war were faced with a housing shortage. Much of the travel-trailer and mobile-home industry got its jumpstart at that time. Confronting the housing situation, a lot of returning servicemen chose to move into RVs and mobile homes, at least for the short-term. It’s unfortunate that our veterans were also then associated with this notion of being “trailer trash.” In the ’40s, people living in “regular” homes also looked upon those in RVs and mobile homes as “trailer trash” because they had to go to the outhouse or the campground wash facilities just to use the toilet. We have hundreds of postcards in our trailer-themed collection just about outhouses.
Trailers are stigmatized because the poor can afford them, and when the first generation of Tiny House dwellers start selling up in earnest, Tiny Houses will be stigmatized too.
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Muji -- the Japanese minimalist design house that's something of a local equivalent to Ikea, but with clothes, stationery, toiletries and groceries -- has finally shipped its long-awaited Mujirushi micro-home, a ¥3,000,000 (USD27,000) "hut" with a slanting roof that can be ordered for delivery and assembly in many Japanese suburbs.
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Behold the Small Buildings of Tokyo
, as found by John Einarsen. Kyoto Journal's Instagram page
is a wonder; I want to live in all of these places simultaneously. There's a book, but you'll have to order it in Yen. [via
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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network:
HGTV and glossy magazines have sparked a boomlet of interest in tiny homes, but they've also made them look fun, cute and easy. The realities of a tiny lifestyle can be more daunting. Municipalities often don't know what to make of tiny houses, and living in one legally is, in many places, challenging. There's a lack of infrastructure for people who want to build them. And although they're in many ways an imaginative solution to some of the most vexing urban housing issues, they don't yet have a high profile in cities. Is there a place for tiny homes in Los Angeles? One woman thinks so, and has founded a collective of like-minded people to make it happen.
Photo by Ben Chun: Creative Commons
This is the fourth episode of Season 5. You can catch up on the whole series at the iTunes Store. While you're there, please take a second to leave the show a rating and review. And you can subscribe right here:
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Just look at that headline! It's a nounpunk antideepstate beanie short of pure condensed random Boing Boing. But the prototype PassivDom “autonomous 3D-printed mobile house” is a €200,000 effort at creating a completely self-powered dwelling fit for the "zombie apocalypse."
The first model, the ModulOne, includes solar panels that power the climate control system, a clean water system that takes moisture from the air, and air quality control system that includes includes carbon dioxide control. The frame is made of 3D-printed carbon fiber, fiberglass, and resists and the entire house is recyclable.
There are three models, from ultra-simple to full autonomous. The Autonomous house is 36 square meters and costs €59,900 to pre-order. There is already a model in Ukraine and they have a few thousand folks already on the waitlist for the houses. Luckily the team doesn’t take itself too seriously. They also offer a special “Zombie apocalypse” package that includes armored glazing, an alarm system, extra toilet paper storage, and a bible.
While the whole thing could be a pie-in-the-sky fantasy it seems that they have a real model built already and all of the technology is feasible. I, for one, look forward to spending my time in a zombie-proof passive house in the middle of the taiga.
I would rather not have to see the zombies. The name abbreviates "Passive Domicile," but PassivDom is brilliant; one supposes the innuendo may not be clear to its Ukrainian creators. No-one tell them! Read the rest
Images: PAD Tiny Houses
In February I asked myself the question, “Will I always live in my tiny house?” And the answer was a classic Dee Williams hedge: maybe. I went on to write about why I still love my house -- the skylight windows that pull the moon in at night, the cedar planking that supports the loft and the way it looks from the kitchen. I love the story of dragging the front door out of a dumpster, and how scared I was the day I took a leap of faith and bought a trailer. There are a thousand stories about my house held in the walls, roof and floorboards. There are even more stories about how the house has worked a bit of magic in my life, giving me a chance to re-define home and to grow into someone that I think is kinder to the earth, her community and herself.
A month or so after writing about how much I still love my house, my friend Derin from Shelter Wise suggested that we should take the house to Colorado for the Tiny House Jamboree, mostly so we could do an awesome road trip and grab photos of the house passing through the high desert of eastern Oregon, the arches and pinnacles of Utah, and sitting quietly at the base of the Rocky Mountains. The conversation planted a little seed, and then I talked with my nephew Jonathan, who had just returned from a six-month bicycle trip through South America. Read the rest
Paul Elkins built a bike-towed micro-camper for $150 and has made the plans available.
Paul Elkins fell for micro-camping in 2002 when he toured the country in his cabover “stealth camper”. Sure he could make something more affordable, this year he began building a nomadic micro-shelter based on the Airstream design.
Using 4 recycled fluted-plastic campaign signs from a recent election, a $20 secondhand bike, 6 pine boards ($1 at Home Depot), screws, Duct tape and zip ties, he built his latest micro mobile shelter for only $150.
Calling it a “micro Airstream bike camper”, it’s a 60-pound “home away from home”, complete with butane stove, bread-pan sink, counter, food storage shelving, clothes-storage bins, LED lighting, bed, windows, pee jug, bubble insulation, stereo with MP3 player, and a skylight made out of a 1 gallon plastic tub.
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Tiny houses have always appealed to me. This is likely because my childhood room was quite terribly tiny. Twin bed; desk at the foot of the bed; narrow space by the bed to walk to the bathroom; door. Much the same as a room in a Japanese businessman’s hotel.
Thus I find myself attracted to this new product from the Cozy Room company of Japan. It is essentially a room in a box with a fancy chair that slides in and out. When the chair is in, you are totally contained and, one hopes, “cozy.” Rocket News helpfully breaks down the name of this little getaway (“Kakureya”) as “a cross between the Japanese words kakureru (‘to hide’) and heya (‘room’).” I cannot help but be reminded of a space capsule, though it lacks the interplanetary scenery.
There are shelves for your collectibles or library, a desk on which to work, a slide out drawer under the desk for your computer keyboard, convenient ventilation and aromatherapy, a place to hang a flat screen TV, various drawers (small, of course). No kitchenette, I’m afraid.
I can envision many peaceful naps in there … shouldn’t the fancy chair really be one of those Japanese massage chairs?
I would modify mine with a pet flap for my cats — no room for the kitty box inside.
Of course, you must have a very large room in which to place this tiny room — somewhat of a paradox. And what would the neighbors think when they come over to watch a football game? Read the rest
Money is tight for the great majority of people right now. If renting an apartment is not for you, and you want a small house for less than $40k, then chances are it’s going to be a so-called “tiny house.” These are typically 50 to 400 square feet and most often use a compost or chemical toilet (or, god forbid the smell, an incinerator toilet).
Here (right) is a photo of a typical tiny house from Wikipedia.
People think this is a new thing. While the reason people may be building and living in houses the size of a single room in a home may vary (“I want to downsize,” “I can make do with less,” “Who can afford a regular size house?” “My wife and kids drive me nuts!”), the fact is that people have been living in eensy-weensy domiciles for hundreds of years.
I suppose we could start with the cave, and the caveman and woman, but that’s silly. They didn’t even know about toilet paper.
In the 1800s, as the migration toward the western part of the U.S. began in earnest:
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As the first waves of loggers swept over great portions of the Pacific Northwest's old-growth forests in the second half of the nineteenth century, those men opened up the dark dense woodlands to settlement. …. Left behind was a scarred landscape, scrap wood, and stumps. Many stumps. Huge stumps. Stumps that still stood a full 10 feet high but were undesirable as lumber because they tended to swell down toward their base, making the wood-grain uneven.
Photographer Won Kim (Instagram) took these photos of people living in a "downscale version" of a Japanese capsule hotel. They are basically sleeping / privacy burrows for urban dwellers. I wonder how much they pay in rent?
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"Tiny Houses" may be an impractical fad for most, but the hankering for smaller, more efficient, more well-designed homes is reaching critical mass. The BBC covers how young Americans want to live in the expensive city, too—and the developers salivating over them
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Billy Ulmer traveled all over the country interviewing people about why they were drawn to designing, building and living in dwellings smaller than the average American greatroom. Meet Chris and Malissa Tack.