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Community community TinyHouses

Australian hype: carbon-neutral houses made of recycled materials

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by: Sharai Hoekema
australian hype  carbon neutral houses made of recycled materials

The other week, a new Australian project caught our attention. A self-proclaimed feminist architecture studio called Whispering Smith came up with the very first prototype of their brainchild. This House A, as the first of its kind is lovingly called, is built as a hybrid between an apartment and a house. With its 753 square feet, it is definitely making the most of the land on which it is situated.

Increasing popularity of small and tiny houses

It is only the latest fad on a wave of small and tiny house projects. The obsession with creating small(er) living spaces has swept the globe, with people from Austria to Australia coming up with innovative, cutting-edge designs for their own version of a small home. Not only are they much more sustainable and cost-effective, they also have significantly lower heating and water bills.

Another argument for downsizing could be that it forces people to cut back on its possessions and only keep those items that they really need - which should, according to popular theories, allow them to live happier and fuller lives as there is less clutter in their lives holding them down.

Apartment-house made of recycled materials

As for House A, which was built to accommodate the directors of the architecture studio developing it, a focus on recycling seemed to be the main focus. Its small size is optimised for building on small lots, while using various recycled materials to constructing the house - including whitewashed brick, timber, cabinetry and 65-percent-recycled-slag and concrete tilt-up panels. 

A location near Perth, Australia was carefully chosen for this project. The house was built in a neighbourhood that is known for its dedication to sustainability: House A was the first of three carbon-neutral residences that were to be built here. And even though it only measures 70 square meters, it feels remarkably comfortable: its three compact levels include a full-sized garage underground and two living floors. 

Simple and basic interior

Even the interior fits the mentality of scaling down and recycling. Its palette is monochromatic and industrious in its execution, meaning that small flaws and imperfections are still visible rather than hidden away. At the same time, the building is constructed in an open space kind of setting, with minimal use of walls and doors to separate spaces. 

This gives the interior an effortless flow, in which spaces blend together effortlessly. This includes the outdoor space, which can easily be added to the house through moveable walls and sliding doors. Perth normally has a climate that allows for this luxurious blending of indoor and outdoor living, which only adds to the spacious feel of the home. 

The appeal of House A and other tiny houses

Even though the advantages of living small are obvious, there are quite a few who wonder what the actual appeal of such a lifestyle is. Yet the developers are convinced that this movement in small living is going to make a huge difference in the lives of the new generation:

House A embodies our desire to build something relevant for our generation. A lot of younger people and downsizers don't have a lot of stuff or are having children much later and we are using our homes for all kinds of things, from starting businesses or hosting a long table dinner for 20. We wanted to build a prototype house that did all of these things, while being affordable, sustainable and made from really beautiful, long lasting materials, and we thought the best way was just to design and build it ourselves.

Other sustainable measures

Apart from mostly using recycled materials for its construction and attention paid to the way in which spaces interact with themselves and the outdoors, more measures have been implemented in House A that serve a greater purpose. For instance, an underground rainwater-collecting tank provides water for most of the house. Solar panels offset the electricity needs, and an indoor clothes-drying line provides a natural way of drying laundry - removing the need for mechanical solutions, such as an actual dryer. 

All of these measures add up to a carbon neutral way of living, while the home’s garden might even elevate its status to being carbon negative. The garden space is a sanctuary for native plant species to grown and blossom, allowing local bird species to thrive. This makes it a great outdoor space that respects its environment while being a great space to relax for the human inhabitants.

House A is definitely ranking up there with other small and tiny house projects. It is innovative, yet nifty and very sustainable. Plus, it definitely pleases the eye - if you are into bare and minimalistic living, that is.

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