8 Great Micro-Houses

Reader Contribution by Robyn Griggs Lawrence and Editor At Large
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“The tiny house movement has emerged in the last few years as more than a trend,” Mimi Zeiger writes in MicroGreen: Tiny Houses in Nature, a collection of 36 tiny building experiments published by Rizzoli this month. “What began as a few individuals following the lead of folks like Jay Shafer of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company is now a new, rich architectural typology.”

Zeiger features a range of environmentally friendly tiny dwellings from across the globe in her luscious book, and she gave us permission to share a few. The following eight homes reflect the diversity in design, materials and philosophies that Zeiger chronicles. This book is a must-read for anyone who’s passionate about tiny houses.

“Flake House”

Dwell meets Abe Lincoln in this modern version of a log cabin designed by OLGGA Architects in France. The house is clad in unmilled timbers with a large single-pane window in the rear. The house is composed of two parts so it can easily be loaded on a flatbed truck and shipped anywhere. Installed on wood supports laid across the ground, it has minimal impact on its site.

“Backwoods Skyscraper”

Derek and Dustin Diedricksen crafted their off-the-grid cabin on 10 wooded acres in Derby, Vermont, almost entirely by hand out of salvaged and recycled materials. The 26-foot-tall home fits three levels of sleeping space into 250 square feet, although the 100-square-foot second story is the only floor with room for people to stand up.

“Sunset Cabin”

Toronto architect Michael Taylor designed this minimal one-room cabin on Lake Simcoe in Ontario, Canada, to provide just the essentials: a bed, a wood-burning stove and a bathroom with an outdoor shower. A screen of one-by-three-inch horizontal cedar slats lets in filtered light, and a green roof planted with sedums and herbs provides thermal mass that helps keep the cabin cool.

“Writer’s Block”

Architects Irene Cheng and Brett Snyder moved and rotated this shed on Westport Island in Maine to shelter it from the sun and wind and to catch tempered breezes from the stand of trees behind it for passive cooling. The log storage wall protects the wood from the elements and provides extra insulation for the little house, which is used as a writer’s retreat.

“Alligator House”

New Orleans architect Will Crocker designed the 13-foot-wide Alligator House as a model for sustainable, affordable housing in post-Katrina New Orleans. Just 13 feet wide, with rooms running in a line from front to back, the home borrows from the traditional “shotgun” design to fit narrow urban sites. Made from durable, hurricane-resistant materials, the home is clad in translucent white panels made from insulated plastic.

“Bridge House”

This narrow house in southern Australia spans a creek with only four small concrete piers, for minimal disruption. Framed with locally grown plantation pine and clad in recyclable sheet steel, the 1,184-square-foot passive solar home has operable windows and ceiling fans that eliminate the need for air conditioning. Solar panels provide hot water and electricity, and wastewater is treated and fed back into the ground.

“Passive House”

Paris architect Franklin Azzi turned a dilapidated 19th-century hunting cabin into an off-the-grid vacation cabin overlooking the Normandy village of Yport. Azzi added wooden pergolas to both sides, which provide decking above and shade below, cooling air before it enters the open living room on the ground floor. Skylights and glass doors bring in natural light.

“Coco Hut”

Netherlands-based designer Gert Eussen created the Coco Hut as a way to recycle the leftover ends of pine beams, a common building material in the Netherlands. He screwed and glued the scraps in place to make this beehive-shaped hut, finished with leftover pieces of aluminum. The rounded shape helps with air circulation, keeping the hut cool.

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