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8 Great Micro-Houses

5/18/2011 2:43:11 PM

Tags: tiny houses, microhouses, Micro-Green: Tiny Houses in Nature, Mimi Zeiger, small houses, tiny house movement, Robyn Griggs Lawrence

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnail“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” 

 micro flake 

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” 

 micro 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” 

 micro 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” 

 micro writers 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” 

 micro alligator 

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” 

 micro bridge 

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” 

micro passive 

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” 

 micro coco 

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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Larry Sullivan
8/26/2012 1:16:12 AM
How does the Australian bridge house treat the waste water before putting it back into the ground?

Summer L
4/6/2012 9:37:26 AM
I also wanted to ask you if there is a backdoor or another way around the codes in your county; possibly having it sit on wheels even though it might be anchored in some way; that way it would be considered a mobile home instead of a "house".

Summer L
4/6/2012 9:33:36 AM
What county do you live in? That really stinks, is there some way to petition the county to over rule those codes?

1/7/2012 4:54:46 AM
Interesting and fun to look at, but practical? They mostly look like they were intended to get a good grade in architecture school. And what's with the shed roof in the "Backwoods Skyscraper" draining (without eaves troughs) right onto the steps? Wouldn't want to have to go upstairs in a rainstorm!

Alexis Drob
1/7/2012 2:52:08 AM
Ewwww, I hate the alligator house it just screams "UGLY" in a big way. But I do like the rest of the houses Especially like the "Bridge House", its cute and off the ground which is a plus!!! :)

Hippie Henderson
1/6/2012 6:37:09 PM
In Georgia we have the same problem. Our county has a building code that does not permit Micro Housing. My wife and I live on 14 acres of rural farmland and I would have loved to replace the original house with a micro house after it was destroyed last year.

1/6/2012 6:21:21 PM
Sorry, but that "alligator" house is hideous and doesn't belong in that neighborhood. Just because something is unusual doesn't mean it has to be foisted onto the whole neighborhood. If I was looking to move into an old, quaint or ethnic neighborhood, I wouldn't buy anywhere near this thing.

1/6/2012 6:18:25 PM
Go to There is a company mentioned somewhere on the site that they recommend to help with regulations regarding various types of building methods, including cob, straw bale, adobe etc. Owen Geiger is one of the people behind and knows all about these regulations. If you can't find that specific company on the site, ask Owen and he can tell you.

dana pallessen
1/6/2012 4:33:30 PM
my husband and i wanted to purchase a 400 square foot park model and put it on our one acre. we were denied by the county because it would not bring in enough tax dollars to the county. any one else out there having this kind of problem. also, the recreational vehicle association and hud have what i can only call colluded to prevent from having these type(breckenridge copperridge) from even being allowed on private property.

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