Tiny homes are ideal for singles and couples, but once you bring a small child or two into the mix and things get complicated. Most people opt to move to a bigger home once their family grows, but UK-based architect Tim Francis, his wife, teacher Laura Hubbard-Miles and their three children have chosen to downsize into a very small home.
Their new home is actually a renovated stone building that was used in Victorian times to store fruit. It’s located in the countryside of Gloucestershire, on Francis’ parents’ estate. Their apartment in London was much bigger than this new home, but the nearest park was quite far away, and with today’s prices they were unlikely to be able to afford another home with more of the qualities they sought.
They call their new tiny home Fruit Store, and it took awhile to get all the permits to turn it into a dwelling. The exact measurements of the home weren’t revealed, but the interior appears quite spacious and cozy, probably due to its open, minimalist design. The home features a loft, which houses the children’s bedroom and playroom. The lounge downstairs features built-in benches, which can either be used as a sofa or transformed into a bed for the parents.
There is also a well-sized kitchen, and a bathroom, though an indoor toilet seems to be missing. The house does have running water and electricity though. the family spends a lot of time together outdoors, gardening and exploring the countryside, which is a definite plus in their new living arrangement. The downsizing has also given Tim a chance to get his design firm, Rural Workshop, off the ground.
A family of three living together in such a small home certainly challenges a whole host of preconceived notions about what a family home should be like. However, what a child really needs is a roof over their heads and a family that loves and protects them. So bedroom size is a secondary consideration.
The firm Miller Kendrick Architects of London, UK recently completed a unique pop-up cabin in the Welsh Countryside. It’s called Arthur’s Cave and was the winning entry in a recent Wales’s Year of Legends festival, which invited designers to come up with proposals for mini-hostels to be built in Wales. Arthur’s Cave draws inspiration from the legend of King Arthur who according to folklore once took refuge in a cave in the area.
The cabin is very small and cave-like. It features a small living area, a bathroom and a den-like bedroom in the back. It has an undulating rib structure and sheathing made of CNC-cut birch plywood. Each section of the ribs is made up of many smaller pieces, which are joined together by jigsaw joints. A small woodstove is also installed in the cabin and takes care of the heating needs. The cabin also has hot and cold running water, and LED lighting throughout. Power comes via an array of solar panels while it is also equipped with a composting toilet. In other words, it functions off-the-grid.
The cabin is located in Castell y Bere and the materials used to build it were sourced locally. They include dark-stained larch boards from the nearby Esgair Forest, which were milled in Machynlleth . They also used sheep’s wool for insulation and they obtained this material from the town of Ty-Mwar.
This first Arthur’s Cave will soon be a part of a popup hostel, along with eight other cabins like it. The hostel is set to open later this summer, and will offer a comfortable, sustainable and unique glamping experience. There is no word on what the prices to rent one of these cabins will be.
Tiny homes are all about downsizing, and in the beginning of the movement that meant getting rid of everything but the bare essentials when it comes to clothes and other material possessions. But with some clever design techniques this is no longer the case. And the newly constructed Juniper house proves that even a very small house can pack a lot of storage.
Juniper house was built by Backcountry Tiny Homes, and they created this home for Alexis and Brian of Living the Tiny Dream. The home measures 290 sq ft (27 sq m) (which includes the lofts) and features an advanced form of framing known as ladder framing, which reduces material costs and weight, as well as limits thermal bridging. It also makes the process of insulating the home easier. Beetle-kill pine was used in the construction process.
The interior of the home features a large multi-purpose unit, so to speak, which was made for IKEA parts and contains a transforming seating area and foldaway table. The seating area also features a hidden coffee table and ottoman, which can be rolled under the sofa when not needed.
The bedroom is located in a loft, which is accessible via a set of stairs with integrated storage space. There is also an elevated platform here for storing shoes, while there is additional storage space hidden in the floor of the loft.
The kitchen is located under the sleeping loft and is fitted with a large sink and refrigerator, as well as an all-in-one washer, and plenty of pantry space. The bathroom features a shower and composting toilet, while the ladder leading up to the second, so-called “reading loft,” is incorporated into its door to save space.
In an effort to save money, Alexis and Brian assisted in the construction of their tiny home, which also meant that they learned a few things along the way. Because of this the total cost of the home was only $53,800, which includes all the furnishings and appliances.
A team of researchers at Cornell University has discovered a process of turning leftover food into energy much faster than already existing methods. It is a two-step process and is very efficient, since it captures virtually all the available energy.
Other methods work on the basis of anaerobic digestion with bacteria slowly chipping away at the organic matter and producing methane, which is then used for fuel. This new method that the researchers discovered works on the basis of the process of hydrothermal liquefaction. Basically, the food leftovers are first pressure-cooked, which results in a sort of bio-oil. This bio-oil is then refined into biofuel, while all that remains of the original food leftovers is just very watery liquid.
The next step is to feed this liquid into an anaerobic digester, which converts it into methane in a couple of days. Two sources of usable energy are produced via this method, one for generating electricity, the other heat, while none of the original food leftovers go to waste. When using just anaerobic digestion, it can take weeks for the food waste to turn into energy.
Also, the liquefied product that is leftover after the hydrothermal processing in this new method is better for the anaerobic digestion part of the process. Combining the two makes the overall process both more efficient as well as quicker. It takes mere minutes to achieve hydrothermal liquefaction and just a few days for the anaerobic digestion.
Current statistics show that about one-third of the world’s food is wasted, while US landfills are primarily filled with food waste. Needless to say, one of the priorities should be to keep food from becoming waste. But it is also important to find efficient ways of recycling food waste into something useful. A process such as this one, which leaves virtually no waste while producing clean energy would greatly reduce our carbon footprint and lessen our dependence on fossil fuels.
Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has unveiled plans for what he is calling the world’s tallest hybrid timber tower. The mixed-use building is called Terrace House and will be built in Vancouver, BC. To construct it, they will use timber, glass, steel and concrete.
The Terrace House will contain 20 homes, with additional retail space on the ground floor, as well as a three floor underground garage. Local developer PortLiving will be in charge of the construction. The designers also made sure that the complex will blend in well with the surrounding structures, especially the adjacent Evergreen Building. In an effort to achieve this, the terraces of the new building will align perfectly with those of the Evergreen Building.
Terrace house will, as the name implies, feature many greenery-covered terraces. The first 12 floors of the building will feature a concrete and steel frame, and the remaining 7 will have a timber exterior, as well as timber floor plates, with a steel and concrete core to meet the local earthquake safety codes. All the timber will be sourced locally in British Columbia.
Judging by the renders, the homes will feature lots of glazing, which means ample amounts of light, but also raises some privacy concerns. Especially since the building is close to, and so well aligned with the adjacent one.
They have not yet announced when construction will begin, but PortLiving will be releasing further details on the project in the next few months. It’s definitely nice to see designers, and city planning commissions, start to incorporate more sustainable materials into the projects that get the green light. Hopefully, this complex will also have other sustainable features, apart from the green façade and the use of wood in construction.