It seems that the trend lately is to build tiny homes that are as large as they can be. It makes sense, since more and more people are downsizing to tiny homes as full time residences. But with their latest model, the so-called Ostara, the French tiny home maker Baluchon has decided to go back to the basics by building a tiny home that is actually tiny. It has already been sold and is named after a stable near Toulouse, France.
The Ostara is only 19 ft (6 m) long yet has a very spacious and comfortable layout. It rests on a double-axle trailer, is clad in cedar and has a metal roof. The front door opens into the main living area, where they placed a very comfortable looking 6 ft (1.8 m) sofa, which can be used as a guest bed if needed. A small, but functional kitchenette is located to the left of the living area. It is split into two sections and fitted with a sink, fridge, shelving and a stove.
The bathroom is located just past the kitchen and is fitted with a shower, composting toilet and a sink. To the left of the living area is a small eating space and a wood burning stove, which provides all the needed heating for the home.
The bedroom is located in a loft, which is accessible via a set of stairs that have integrated storage. The bed is quite large and there is also a net installed in this area, which protects the sleeper from doing themselves harm should they roll out of bed.
The Ostara features sheep’s wool insulation in the floor, while the walls are insulated with cotton, linen and hemp. It needs to be hooked up to the grid for power using a standard RV-style hookup, while they also installed LED lighting throughout.
There is no word on the costs of building this model, or for how much it sold.
The Japanese architect Shigeru Ban recently completed a very interesting and innovative theater building in Paris, France. Shigeru Ban is well known for pushing the envelope when it comes to architectural design, as well as for his humanitarian design work, and this theatre is no exception. It features a wall of solar panels, which is movable so that it can follow the sun all day.
Ban created the Seine Musicale theatre building in collaboration with French architect Jean de Gastines. It is located in the western suburbs of Paris, on the Île Seguin. The round building can seat 5,500 and contains two separate main halls, five recording studios, several practice rooms, as well as a huge rooftop garden that is planted with more than a dozen different tree species.
However, the really impressive part of the building is the 200-ton and 147-foot (45-meter) movable “sail” covered in solar panels. It is a heliotropic surface, which is capable of automatically tracking the path of the sun at a rate of 16 feet (5 meters) per minute. In this way the solar power generation of the array is maximized, while the “sail” also provides shading for the interior. It is definitely a feat in sustainable design, and Ban hopes in time the building will become one of the world famous symbols of Paris, alongside the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre pyramid.
The theater has a timber structure, which is robust enough to support its glass skin. The ceiling of the 1,150-seat classical music auditorium is made out of hexagonal elements that satisfy the acoustic demands of building such a structure. It is covered with an array of tubes that are made from wood, cardboard and paper, while weaved wooden slats cover the walls.
This project took four years to complete, and it is a great example of how cutting edge technology can be used to make our buildings more sustainable. Hopefully more future projects will incorporate such innovative solutions.
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.
Renovating an existing building can sometimes be the greenest choice, and this revamping of a traditional worker’s cottage into a modern family home is certainly a prime example of this. The renovation was carried out by the Australian firm A For Architecture and the home is located in Melbourne, Australia. The house was once the home of a local factory worker and was built in the middle of the nineteenth century, along with hundreds of others just like it.
The original layout of the house featured many small rooms, and consequently a lot of walls. They started the renovation by first taking down a number of these dividing walls, to make the spaces more open. They kept the two bedrooms, which are located at the front of the house, but they moved the bathroom from the rear to the middle of the home, where it is now located next to the laundry room and a storage space. It was completely redone and is quite large, featuring a sink, shower and toilet. A third bedroom is located just above it.
The living area is at the rear of the home and opens onto the back garden. They also installed several skylights into the roof here to let in even more natural daylight. Apart from having a good connection to the garden, the clients also wished for a layout that would allow for both privacy, as well as spaces where the family could spend time together.
For this reason the architects kept the original layout of the bedrooms in the front, while the rest of the home is now basically one large space. Glazing was installed along the entire back wall of the home, which together with the many skylights makes the interior appear spacious, aids ventilation and lets in lots of light. They kept the existing brick walls, but added timber and concrete during the renovation to make it more robust and give the home that modern, industrial aesthetic.
All in all, this is a great renovation of an old building, and they managed to keep heaps of material out of the landfill while transforming it into a lovely family home.
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.