Monday, December 1, 2008

Don’t swing that cat inside

After my post on iPhone Apps and reintroducing 'small is beautiful' as an idea that’s right for our time, a friend recommended a great site featuring another small triumph. This time it’s housing. In a video on the site, a couple of people have settled into small (and I mean small) houses as a way to reinvent their lives, and tell their stories. In some places in the world, even these 800 square feet (70 square meter) dwellings would be spacious but, as in all things, size is relative!

There is quite a movement among architects in New Zealand to build houses using shipping containers. The idea works on the 'small is beautiful' principle, and once you have a few of these metal boxes piled up and clad with something more appealing than steel, they can turn into roomy and well designed homes. Just last week, a story on IKEA from Matroshka beautifully summed up this philosophy of simplicity: “Plain, Nordic, simple. Reminds me of my youth when we were poor and full of hope.”

There is the opportunity to put a whole lot of small things together to make one large one. This has happened in the U.K. where Travelodge has created a 100 room hotel made from, you guessed it, shipping containers. It cost the hotel chain ten percent less and took ten weeks faster to build. Regrettably the process has been gifted the rather unlovable name of ‘box and build’. On a more positive note, the hotel can be easily reshaped and resized and the rooms look as good as any regular hotel room you are likely to see. Projects like these have a lot to show us about thinking outside the box – literally. We need innovative ways to add value; initiatives that push ahead recycling at scale and a serious reconsideration of the amount of space we take up on the planet.

1 comment:

Amruta said...

That is a very interesting concept. The houses also don't look makeshift or ugly at all. In fact they look as good as the houses made of concrete. This idea definitely goes under the category of 'seeing is believing' as I'm sure people who haven't seen these pictures or the houses would have a damn hard time believing that they exist.