Mobility may have been the most massive driving force behind the interstate highway system and suburbia as we know it – but the focus is slowly shifting.
There is a growing movement toward (and market for) new types of small-space dwellings and miniature homes built on wheels. While similar, these tiny houses are not the same as the traditional prefabricated-and-portable housing typologies that celebrate always-on-the-road living and go-anywhere, move-anytime lifestyles.
The result is a more economical, simple approach to house design without associated costs (personal and environmental) of full-time mobile living. Tumbleweed is one tiny house company that has made an (architectural) art of condensing spatial requirements for still-comfortable living within small-square-foot residences, down to as little as just 65 sq. feet.
Blending the best of prefabrication and optional do-it-yourself construction, these low-cost dwelling spaces are green in more than the obvious material ways – they simply use fewer resources and require less complex construction. That’s not to say they’re always cheap, however. Tumbleweed offers payment plans, and some can be nearly as expensive as a mortgage on a regular sized home.
Other tiny-building specialists like Modern Cabana are admittedly more about supplying additional spaces to existing homes, but the portability factor again makes this a more sustainable approach as the resulting mini-structures can be moved rather than demolished. They’re a great option for backyard offices, meditation spaces, art studios, guest rooms and other spaces that benefit from a little separation from the main house.
Whether fixed-in-place and semi-permanent or up-on-wheels and ready to roll, small homes and auxiliary housing, work and relaxation spaces are simply more flexible – these buildings can bought, sold, lifted and transported rather than discarded or destroyed when no longer in use.
Tiny houses could also be an interesting solution to the lack of affordable housing in many cities, particularly for the homeless, elderly, and people on low fixed incomes.