BY: PHILIPPE DE JOCAS
In an age where housing prices are climbing faster than a monkey on PCP – forcing millennials and young families to either live at home with their parents or room with friends – various companies and trailblazing individuals have started proposing alternative, affordable solutions to our growing housing crisis. In recent years, two distinct schools of thought have grown around the idea of cutting costs by reducing the size of one’s home. Not only does this present a compact and affordable alternative to the sprawling McMansions endemic to recent United States suburban developments, but shrinking living spaces has a positive knock-on effect: it also helps the environment, reducing the amount of resources we need to furnish our houses and keeping pristine wild spaces… well, wild.
Secluded Intown Treehouse – Atlanta, Georgia
Intrigued yet? Thinking that maybe tiny living is the right lifestyle for you? You’re not alone. AS of 2017, there are a variety of different homes available for people in search of the Lilliputian lifestyle. If you’re in Japan, for instance, you could rent a room in the Nakagin Capsule Tower, a version of the infamous “honeycomb hotels” built for permanent use. Stateside, however, there are two main architectural schools of thought concerning how to shrink homes: container homes versus traditional tiny homes. Traditional tiny homes are just what they sound like: an otherwise normal home that’s between 100 and 400 square feet, in contrast to the 2,600 square feet of your average American home. Since their inception in the mid-2000s, tiny houses have grown (ahem) from a hipster alternative into a bona fide architectural school of thought.
Floating Tiny House – North Haven, Maine
Container homes, on the other hand, ramp up the square footage in exchange for a healthy dose of recycling. Decommissioned shipping containers, the kind you might see on a Maersk freighter – remain durable and modular. Some architects and construction companies have seen the advantages of stacking container homes together to create towering Lego-esque constructions: an unconventional design choice that’s won accolades and praise. Which of these home alternatives is right for you?
The biggest draw about tiny homes is that they’re… well… tiny. How tiny is up to the whims of the designers. You’ll unusually wind up with a home that has all the normal commodities – heat, lighting, and plumbing – but expect to see lots of furniture pulling double duty, like a couch/bed combination or a multipurpose living room. Whether or not this is the right fit for you depends on how you feel about the idea of multipurpose furniture: slick shapeshifting, or a clunky clutter? Tiny homes tend to be location focused. Generally, you’ll see tiny homes nestled in the great outdoors, like elfin cottages, rather than in the middle of a city.
On the other hand, container homes are all about space. Like Lego bricks, they can be arranged in near-infinite ways: you can create sprawling bungalows, or towering apartments, all from a handful of metal boxes. That said, container homes often clock in at more of an expense than their tiny counterparts: they tend to be larger on average and refitting the containers from places to store greasy machine parts into a livable dwelling can get costly. Compared to tiny homes, you’ll most often see container homes boxing it up in urban developments. Both are clean, sleek, and attractive alternatives to the norm, band neither one is really a wrong answer- it all depends on what you want to get out of this architectural revolutions.