OTIS portable trailer home

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The American dream used to include a good job, 2.5 kids, and especially an impressive home, but the mindset of younger Americans has changed to dreaming of smaller, more efficient homes. This tiny, off-screen home called OTIS (Optimal Traveling Independent Space) was designed by students at Vermont’s Green Mountain College Renewable Energy and Ecological Design. It consists of just 70 square feet and can be towed on a standard utility trailer.

trailer OTIS home

Its easy portability and tiny size are compatible with a nomadic lifestyle, which is becoming more and more appealing to people of all ages. The OTIS, however, was designed with college students in mind. Professor Lucas Brown, the teacher of the course, says that college graduates don’t want to be tied down with a mortgage after graduation. Many recent graduates also don’t want to be stuck in one place as they look for a job or just the perfect city in which to put down roots.


The structure was designed with biomimicry in mind. The lightweight, durable exterior was modeled after the hollow bones of birds. Multifunctional skin-like membranes – modeled after dragonfly wings – keep the structure light, aerodynamic, and able to let in ample natural light. The students did extensive computer modeling of the design before actually building it.

stove and sink

The interior of the tiny trailer home contains a desk, a bed, a primitive sink and composting toilet, and a wood-burning stove. A rainwater collection system and 120W solar panel keep the OTIS green and off-grid. According to Professor Brown, the OTIS can be built for between $8,000 and $10,000 in materials.