Friday, August 26, 2005

The Micro House


Years ago, way before I started building solar homes, I mentioned to an interior designer friend of mine that I would like to design a house that was a cube. I never did do it. But she told me several years later that she did, and that she won a design award for it.

Earlier this week, I came across this link thanks to Flying Talking Donkey, a peak oil site.

The serenity of the photograph and the Zen nature of it are striking. And it makes you understand that the possiblities ahead of us are endless.

Just like we can strive for beauty and balance in our daily lives, we can also strive for beauty in our habitations. Unsurprisingly, we can often achieve success in surprising and unexpected ways, whether the house is big or small, expensive or frugal, urban or rural.

This micro house would surely turn into a jail cell if it were not for the outdoor environment around it. But, because it is so compact, this house is easily powered by today's photovoltaics at a reasonable cost.

I like the feel of the language of the design objectives of this house:

The micro compact home is a lightweight, modular and mobile minimal dwelling for one or two people. Its compact dimensions of 2.6m cube adapt it to a variety of sites and circumstances, and its functioning spaces of sleeping, working - dining, cooking, and hygiene make it suitable for everyday use.

The design of the micro compact home has been informed by the classic scale and order of a Japanese tea house, combined with advanced concepts and technologies in Europe.The tiny cube provides a double bed on an upper level and working table and dining space for four or five people on a lower level.

The kitchen bar is accordingly arranged to serve these two levels. The entrance lobby has triple use and functions as a bathroom and drying space for clothing. Storage is provided off each of these four functioning spaces.

We are used to spending time in compact spaces - in our cars, or when we travel by air. The micro compact home is informed by both of these in its incorporation of advanced technology and design. Living in it means focusing on the essential - less is more. The use of progressive materials complements the sleek design.

The low energy concept, providing a high level of insulation and low emission coated glass, contains heating and air conditioning that is easy to operate and adjust. Surfaces are chosen for their warmth and clean feel to touch, and windows have privacy blinds.

Lighting consists of the latest LED low temperature technology, and communication and entertainment is provided by an integrated sound system with two flat screen TV monitors with broadband connection. The kitchen integrates a double radiant hob and microwave oven and a double compartment fridge / freezer combination.

Our Houses have grown in size over the last 50 years by a factor of two. After World War II, the average house was less than 1000 square feet. Today, the median is over 2,000. The microhouse idea is not new. Here is an article from Mother Earth News. But, the Zen like simplisticity of the Austrian design is clearly lovely.

And, in bunches they may even make a community.


As we move into the uncharted horizons of climate change, peak oil, and accelerated technological advancement, we may be happily surprised to find that necessity is a fine mother.

And we will be reminded

that our true mother,

the earth,

is a fine invention.

And the human being,

fits just fine in it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fabulous piece.

7:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The center for Maximum Potential Building Systems in Austin has done some very nice work in this area, and has pioneered many of the ideas and designs dealing with sustainability and land use that I see in the micro house..

nice post.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

zin post.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the idea that "we may be happily surprised to find that necessity is a fine Mother". Very cool house. Cool setting. Cool Post.

Why Zinn and not Zen?

9:42 AM  
Blogger oZ said...

because I can't spell. thanks, I fixed it.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am looking for a way to escape the stress of work. Cheaper housing would be one means to being able to not have to work such long hours. I would have to get rid of most of my things but as I sit here with my heart pounding due to work stress I can only think it may be worth it.I am single so only myself to please. I hope to find info on where I could buy a small piece of land that would allow me to build such a structure.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in a 900 square foot house built in 1949. It's concrete! Since it doesnt appear to be totally modern I like to call it a mini House. Micro sounds much more modern.

5:43 PM  

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