The idea of how minimal is too minimal is one that can only be answered by the inhabitant of the space. Conversationally speaking there seem to be two major camps to emerge in the tiny house community. The first camp believe in the tiny house as comfy, cozy, cabin comparable to a bird’s nest in that everything is bundled and within arms’ reach. The second camp is the more minimalist of the two holding fast to the notion that way less is way more and a home should have little more than a mat to sleep on and a fuel source to heat and cook with. While the conversation rarely finds itself into polite company it will certainly come to light with the observation of the project “Ermitage” – a wooden cabin in the woods of Trossö, near the west coast of Sweden.
This black-painted tiny house was designed for a couple by Paris-based architecture firm Septembre and is a study in bare necessities. Described by Septembre as, “Two large windows frame the windswept and poetic landscape: the ocean on one side, pines on the other, with a large sliding door effectively doubling the living area when open.” And nothing more. Upon discover though it actually reveals a number of building principles that align with the modern tiny house movement.
Framed and finished, the interior seems to be little more than 4’x8′ yellow pine with exposed seems. The window casing follow suit with very basic exposed framing. The oversized windows are single pane allowing for an unobstructed view of the outdoors as well as a significant amount of natural (or ambient) light on each side of the house. The window treatment(s) is likely a type of canvas, muslin, or burlap purposely rolled to remain “hidden” to some extent while remaining perfectly functional. The lack of personal touches and photos forces the inhabitant to recognize the natural world around him as art rather than background.
The bed is the focal point of the room as it sits on a risen platform with direct view of the side window and in symmetry with the window across the room. From this vantage point the shape and size ratio of the tiny house is obvious and even allows for a very snug and cozy fit for the bed area. Without large bedding the mattress even allows for a presumed yoga or meditation area without arranging and rearranging. It is what is under the bed that is most interesting about Septembre’s design though.
Rolling storage (drawers assembled of yellow pine with simple casters) divides the space under the bed into three keeping the overall space free from closets and/or clutter. The floor matches the rest of the interior save its tongue and groove assembly as opposed to lumber sheeting. Ermitage also has extra room on the bed platform making a great space for a journal or book or perhaps a midnight snack!
The door to the tiny house is as understated as any door could be. Looking from the inside like a section of the wall and from the outside like part of the exterior line, the sliding opening serves to keep the house weather tight but also to double the living space allowing a fluidity from inside to out. Also obvious is what may be the primary lighting fixture in the tiny house as well as two, utilitarian coat hooks tucked away under the door casing; functional yet not distracting.
The Ermitage is simple. The Ermitage is sparse. And similar to the Sneaky Cabin, the Ermitage is brilliant in that it immerses the inhabitant in the landscape assuring they never forget the human position in the world.
- Is the Ermitage too simple?