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Architecture Architecture Tinyhouses

Tiny houses is all about having a smaller ‘footprint’ on our globe

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by: Hans van der Broek
Tiny houses is all about having a smaller ‘footprint’ on our globe

Camping

In the sixties I went camping with my parents. The tent was made from ‘heavy’ cotton and was not always waterproof. I still can remember the smell inside. A mixture of fresh forest scent, prepared food, coffee and in the morning a mix of sleeping odor, the wakening nature around us and the stench from the ‘pee bucket’.

It felt as an adventure to be away from ‘home’ in an unknown area where I built small huts from branches and leaves with other children I met during our holiday or summer weekends.
VW, tent camping black and white
My grandparents had a small caravan. My grandfather had build it himself. It was a large, floppy shelter on wheels. But it was cozy and more comfortable than our tent. There were seats, curtains for the windows and with some handiness the benches could be turned into a sleeping place with a ‘real’ mattress. There even was a built-in small gas stove and a sink. The last had to be filled with water out of a yellow jerrycan where after the dishes were done, the plug got removed and the water somewhere left the caravan by a small rubber tube and disappeared into the grass.

My parents bought a Paradiso (folding-trailer) in the seventies. It was a little more luxurious than a tent and was faster to set up. The next step was a caravan with seats, a small fully equipped kitchen and even a tiny toilet and shower. Water was pumped into a built-in reservoir and gave the possibility to take showers. A very small tiny house which was nice to stay in for a few weeks where after it was great to go home again - to my own room - and appreciate the available space.
red and white camping car
The Paradiso

First encounters with my own tent, bunks and refuges

When I started to go on holiday by myself I often went into the mountains with my friends carrying a backpack with a lightweight tent. Sometimes we stayed in small cabins for a night. These cabins existed out of a few bunks and had a stove. Washing was done outside. A sink was made from a hollowed tree trunk and water came natural by gravity and was… ice cold.
On later occasions we sometimes rented a small cabin which was stored with ‘all you need’ equipment including a fridge. Water storage was done in a water tank on poles so there was sufficient pressure to shower and to do the dishes.
stone shelter in forrest with chimney
Of course, we were in a holiday and camping mood, so it did not matter that certain smells started to mix up during our stay. The toilet door was not stink-resistant. The smell of onions could be present for at least one day and even our clothes started to take over this odor. After a day walk, our socks were left outside because inside the smell would be just a little too much.
Refuges often gave one or two nights shelter. Together with many other hikers we would lay on a lifted frame with planks where on top we could put our Themarest mattresses and sleeping bags. A refuge keeper would prepare breakfast and dinner on request. It was like staying with a temporary family. A hikers tiny house.

Trailers & cabins and bungalow parks

In many countries where I have been like the US, New-Zealand, Australia and even Turkey, trailer & cabins are good accomodations to have a short stay. Nowadays they are fully equipped and are a little bit like at home.
The sleeping space still stays in ‘camping mode’. You have to climb up the stairs to disappear between the sheets in a cramped space in the loft. Or moving items in the living space to change the couch into a double bed. So far so good if it is for a few weeks.

My girlfriend and I are both easy going but to be together in ‘one room’ for a while sometimes takes its toll. We both got used to a certain kind of privacy. If my girlfriend had to do something for her job or just wanted to be alone to read a book there was always this ‘grumbling’ man around ha, ha.

Tiny houses; romanticizing the lives of the poor

The trailer parks in the US house thousands of people. Especially after the real estate collapse in 2008. Many people had to take refuge in these trailers because they had lost their home.
In the Netherlands there are many ‘Bungalow Parks’ which cater for the same group. People who get divorced also often find temporary or long-term solution by staying in a 'Bungalow Park' because rents are unprecedented and unaffordable.
In many cities it takes at least 8 years to make any chance on finding social housing. Officially it is not allowed to live in these parks long term but the government often ‘turns a blind eye’.
People make lovely little gardens around their trailer or ‘bungalow’, veranda’s to sit in the afternoon and some people grow their own vegetables. Romantic, but this often finds its origin in an emergency.
Tiny house with garden and tree

We have arrived in the tiny house era

So now we arrived in the ‘Tiny House Movement’ era. Actually, it’s nothing new but it got made something new because people get more conscious about the limited amount of living space, limited resources and the understanding that we don’t need that many rooms. It’s also about being self-sufficient and minimalistic. It’s all about having a smaller ‘footprint’ on our Globe; the Earth. So far so good!

Is it realistic? Finding the balance

Now we have to find the balance between having the extreme small into something that can ‘grow on you’ (can be adjusted during your stay). It would be foolish to think that life is static and our mind is not to be subject of changes.
You want to buy a tiny house but can’t get a mortgage but only a loan? Who’s is going to build it? Do you or the company of your choice  have the right skills? Remember ‘tiny houses’ are just ‘new’! Many countries don’t allow you to live permanent in a ‘house on wheels’. What about storms and your insurance? Our climate is changing and your tiny house is more vulnerable to withstands strong winds than a brick house! Anyway, at the end you made your choice. So here you are, two of you in your ideal tiny house setting. After a few month you find out there is a baby coming. You want to start a study and need some silent space! What about your bicycles, baby car and your electric or  hybrid car? Where will you store them?
All these things you have to ask yourself and try to realize that what you want will at least be your home for about 5 years otherwise your cost of living could be much higher than thought.

Two floor tiny houses


two, 2 floor tiny houses
Tiny houses with a ‘second’ floor at a fixed place would make much more sense for me than the trailer tiny houses. It gives you the possibility to extend your family without moving directly,  to have some privacy, a place to be alone or to study. And you don't need to move all your stuff if you get guests or simply if you want to go asleep.
You still will have a front- and back garden and it will be more solid, easy to insure and ‘stormproof’. You can grow your own vegetables, have your solar panels, and charge your electric car in front of your house.

People tend to swing from one extreme to another

Trends are often temporary and extreme in their appearance. While the ‘Tiny House Movement’ is a very good initiative it’s a little too radical. In a few years we will see that there will be a separation between the real small space ‘hardliners’ and people who want something ‘in between’. hardliners are conscious people who really want make their resource’ footprint smaller. When it comes to tiny houses they will have more and more houses to choose from. Tiny houses become more flexible in space and privacy.
Because most of the people will live in cities in 2050, in my opinion the 2 floor tiny houses will make a good chance.

https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/architecture/tinyhouses

By: Hans van der Broek

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Hans van der Broek , founder Founder and CEO of WhatsOrb, world traveller, entrepreneur and environmental activist. Hans has countless ideas and has set up several businesses in the Netherlands and abroad. He also has an opinion on everything and unlimited thoughts about how to create a better world. He likes hiking and has climbed numerous five-thousanders (mountain summits of at least 5000m or 16,404 feet in elevation)  
Hans van der Broek , founder Founder and CEO of WhatsOrb, world traveller, entrepreneur and environmental activist. Hans has countless ideas and has set up several businesses in the Netherlands and abroad. He also has an opinion on everything and unlimited thoughts about how to create a better world. He likes hiking and has climbed numerous five-thousanders (mountain summits of at least 5000m or 16,404 feet in elevation)  
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