Saturday 17 March 2018

The thing is... Your 30-second guide to everything: Tiny Houses

Illustration: Eorna Walton
Illustration: Eorna Walton

Emily Hourican

What: Teeny-tiny houses, which are adorably cute and almost like playhouses, except these are for grown-ups, who take them very seriously indeed. They are fully-functioning, with plumbing, lighting and heating, but compact. They are miracles of clever design and multi-functional space which, because they don't require foundations, can technically be put almost anywhere.

Why: The obvious reasons - they cost less, run on less and take up less room than traditional houses. In a world where space, and real estate, are both at a premium, this makes sense.

Why Now: Because this trend is more than just pragmatic. Tiny houses are as much a social thing as they are an architectural thing, tapping into a growing interest in downsizing, eco-living, back-to-nature, and general simplifying and decluttering. After all, it's hard to accumulate a heap of expensive crap when you are living in less than 500 square feet.

How: Tiny houses can be additional - holiday homes; somewhere at the end of the garden to put grown-up children who won't/can't leave home - but increasingly they are becoming the primary residences of dedicated modern-life refusniks, the type who want to live beside isolated lakes with only the bare necessities, but in some degree of charm and comfort.

Who: Henry David Thoreau, father of American self-reliance, would definitely approve. Re-wilders; architects fond of a challenge, including 'starchitect' Sarah Susanka who pretty much kicked the modern movement off. Nature-lovers; city-haters; the Japanese; and, increasingly, celebrities who scent a trend.

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