Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Small Space Design: A Societal Bridge

I found this project out of Italy working on  small space design and was intrigued by it. The difference between this project, dubbed the Freedom Room, and the slew of others out there: it was designed by prisoners.freedom room A training program was created through a collaboration with the research center Cibicworkshop and the research and design cooperative Comodo to provide the necessary tools to the prisoners of Spoleto, Italy’s correctional facility to create functional, beautiful and innovative small space design.

freedom room1 While their motivation is driven by forced small space accommodation the project is a reflection of far-reaching opportunities. The collaborators envision the rise of new social dynamics and innovative solutions to re-shaping communities and neighborhoods. That’s definitely in line with what I heard Jay Shafer speak about at a workshop last summer. It’s what many small space designers and tiny house builders are searching for. A shift in consciousness and the wider societal embrace of less is more.

freedom room2That such a project is coming out of a correctional facility really struck a cord with me. Prisons are places that are often tucked away and hidden from the daily life of citizens yet it’s impact and reflection on our society is poignant. That these inmates became the designers and project consultants of this prototype reflects innovation in design as well as social involvement and prison reform. 

Some of the issues that small space design is addressing includes inflated housing markets, high unemployment, increased underemployment, capitalist consumerism and the overt display of materialism of McMansions among other ills. Many folks interested in tiny houses can attest to this, including myself. The Freedom Room is a project design based on living under restraint but has shown what ingenuity born of necessity can initiate. It can be directed for use in the everyday life of people around the world and the collaborators hope that the project will serve as inspiration not only for other prisons but all manners of needs within society. It is another model expressing the simplicity and beauty that small space design is capable of achieving across the societal board-from inmates, to student dormitories, to hotel rooms to tiny living spaces.freedom room3

I find this project to be an inspiration in many ways.  As a prototype it addresses the major issues of decent living within penitentiaries and educational rehabilitation of inmates within the prison system. It reflects the viability of small space design in ways I’d never even considered. That somehow gives me hope that, eventually, more and more people will come around, give tiny living a try themselves, whether that means 100, 300, 500 or 1000 sq. feet, and perhaps consider reducing their footprint and finding the joy in simpler living. freedom room4

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Your Turn!

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2 Comments
  1. What MAJOR food for thought in this post, Ryan! As I contemplate downsizing, I’ve been thinking of it as just that – freedom.

    But it’s difficult for many people I know to embrace living with less. We’re so conditioned to “bigger is better”.

    Perhaps the concept of living small needs the perspective of a community of people who don’t have a choice on where and how they live. Tapping into the joy of simpler living may be one of the few freedoms the prisoners can enjoy these days.

    Thanks for posting:)

    Karen

    • Hello Karen,

      Thanks for the reflections on my post! The points you make are truly insightful and I appreciate your perspective. I love that two seemingly opposite world’s-that of design and that of imprisionment-combined to create such a project and reflect the multiple layers within society that small space design can have an impact. Moving in to a tiny house certainly felt like freedom to me but what a difference choice makes in living the tiny life.

      Thanks again,
      Andrea

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