The term “tiny house” is not a new one. For several years now there has been a growing fascination with downsized housing. While this trend has been established in regions of the US for some time now, Australia has only recently started falling in love with these miniature homes. And, I mean, what’s not to love? These houses seem to have it all; immaculate design aesthetic, minimised environmental impact and a practical push towards autonomous living.
So when we heard that Tiny House Company were opening up their pint sized space in Brisbane, we were eager to check it out and have a chat to the creators.
The team behind Tiny House Company, consisting of graduate architects/apprentice carpenters Lara Nobel and Andrew Carter, and Builder Greg Thornton, have been working on the project since early this year.
“I guess we’d been looking at a lot of the tiny houses in America and Greg and I went over to the Tiny House conference in Portland Oregon in April,” says Lara.
Greg continues, “The conference was where we tested the water in America, and we got back from there and it was kind of do or die. We thought ‘if we don’t do it we’ll regret it’ and we’ve been lucky to have the time, space, energy and capital to invest in it.”
But for the team behind Tiny House Company, the project was less about jumping on a trend and more about creating a home that made an environmentally responsible lifestyle possible.
Lara explains, “We spoke to lots of people at the conference about the whole idea of downsizing your life and really controlling what you need to make you happy.
“That means not only controlling what you have in terms of ‘stuff’, but also taking control of your consumption of power, being off grid, controlling your water consumption and processing your own waste. I really like the idea of doing that.”
Lara says that this sense of environmental responsibility echoes through the methods and materials used to build the homes: “Even in the building of it, we try and be sustainable. All the decking boards are recycled from and old jobs and all the timber doors came from old houses. Australia needs to manage its timber use better so, when we haven’t used recycled materials, we’ve used eco timbers. So all the timbers have been sourced in a sustainable way.”
While sustainability is an essential element of this tiny house, it is not at the expense of aesthetic. In fact, quite the opposite. The recycled materials add a unique sense of texture and homeliness that accentuate and complement the clean lines of the structural eco timber beams.
Lara elaborates on this design choice, “Using recycled materials give it a warmth and a life as well as being more sustainable.”
While this home ticks all the boxes when it comes to both sustainability and aesthetic, with small houses there is always the question of liveable practicality. How functional can an 18 square metre space really be? Well the answer to that is, very functional.
Aside from the masses of storage in this tiny home that would put many three bedroom houses to shame, this house has been designed for the hot Australian climate, making it not only practical but extremely pleasant.
Lara says, “It has passive solar design, so that means, if you can orientate it correctly on the block, you should be able to good cross flow so the air comes in through the bottom windows and the hot air rises and is released through the high louvres.
"That cross flow is really important for small spaces especially if they’re not going to be air-conditioned.”
Overall this tiny house feels refined but not ostentatious in its design, manageable and spatially practical in its size and environmentally sustainable as a product.
This sort of downsized living goes beyond the aesthetically pleasing fantasy homes that litter Pinterest feeds and make living in spaces that are beautiful, practical and environmentally friendly a plausible reality.
If you want to check out the space yourself, Tiny House Company will be popping up at Woodford Folk festival later this year or head over to their website.