One questions that comes up a fair bit about tiny houses is what about tiny houses in cities? Its a good question because currently over half of the world’s population lives in a city and we only expect that number to grow. For the most part, tiny houses have existed in smaller towns, on the edge of a city or in rural locations. But the truth is there are a lot of city dwellers that want to live tiny.
My go to response to the question about tiny houses in cities is that we can still have tiny houses in the city, but most likely what we will do is take the design principals of tiny houses and then apply the to the design of apartments. Essentially taking tiny houses and stacking them. It is important to make sure that we don’t loose sight of our focus on design, make sure there is a strong connection with the outside, and to develop green spaces and public places for us to enjoy.
I think the biggest challenge of adapting tiny houses to a city is ensuring there is enough natural light. And I don’t mean window that only opens to a light shaft in the center of a building, at worst it would open to a open space within a building that is build around a large courtyard. Having visited NYC several times, I couldn’t imagine living in a place where your only window was a mere few feet from a solid brick wall. Honestly, I feel like humans should live like that; I feel like there should be at least one large window that allows your sight to extend a few thousand feet.
While I do technically live in a city – Charlotte, NC – its a very different kind of city. You can easily pickup an acre lot here, go 20 minutes outside the city and you can get 10 acre lots. There is a lot of woods still here and nature isn’t too far. For me personally I just need to see lots of greens and browns, to have that connection with nature. Something just clicks with me when I’m outside in the woods.
I say all this to point out that however we meet the needs of urban density and however we implement tiny houses in a city, we need to make sure there is good connection with green spaces. It is very important in tiny living because you really do need to extend your living space to the outdoor world, which means we need quality places to go to.
What got me thinking about all of this is an interesting project out of the school of Savannah College of Art and Design. They posed an interesting question: as we transition to more public transportation, walkable cities and biking, what do we do with the vestiges of parking decks?
There response was to create modular units that could create housing out of parking decks. At first it seems odd, but I realized the potential and some of the drawings are pretty neat!