I am slowly steering back to the old blogging route hither.My adventures elsewhere are still on the make, but here...here I get intimate. So intimate that I'm saying come live with me.
I'm not always taken up with flights of fancy but a post at EcoGeek got me thinking. EcoGeek has always something to get you thinking as it is a place to for green imaginings and tech solutions. And a post on small houses spoke to me in a way others, say, on solar cell phones or recycling CDs do not.
The core of my excitement --such as it was -- was EcoGeek's reference to The top five tiniest houses which is a sort of catalogue complete with indoor and outdoor images.
Perhaps you are thin king ,"Tiny houses? What the...! Is this something for hobbits?"
Consider these two images and their associated attributes. The PrefAb WeeHouse to the left -- and the more modern Micro-mini home to the right below.
This second 'home' could be integrated into multi-tier living, I gather, by inserting the modules onto a scaffolded frame.
So these are both very small and cheap prefab housing units that are designed up with all mod cons. Some are rigorously energy and environmentally efficient.
In reading through these options I was reminded by the dual problem of providing housing for those who don't have it or can't afford it (same thing) and of providing housing that was carbon considerate and comfortable without consumerist gadgetry.
My life experience affirms the core wisdom of at least having a roof over one's head and for us here at home that 'roof' came gratis from Aunt Mary who kindly died and left us her home.
That was the most important single economic event that ever happened in my family's existence -- the kids, the missus and I. I need only mention the words "Mortgage Free!" and "Rent Free!" to give you an idea of how significant such a domestic lifestyle present can be.So I respect home ownership like you wouldn't believe and consider that mortgage payments are the greatest economic tragedy that fouls a human's financial existence.
But consider what is being explored with these tiny house concepts: prefabricated housing; intense design and material mode; environmentally friendly materials and portability. In fact we're talking about a totally different take to the form of "residencies" we are used to.
My house here(its' the second domestic exercise as we sold the original) is a wooden house that was built in 1950 on a block of land two kilometres away. It has x number of rooms and such but the key thing is that 12 years ago I bought this house for $500, put it on the back of a truck and relocated it here. The shift and restumping cost $8,000. It was a "single shift." -- one truck ride.
The land we 'live' on here is the backyard of my partner's parent's house where she grew up. Her mother still lives in the original house on the rest of the block which was built in 1948. Both residences will survive, touch wood another fifty to 100 or more years.
This is a major activity here in Brisbane especially now that suburban blocks are being sub divided and houses are either shifted to one side or relocated. Don't you go thinking you can pick up a house for $500 in a hurry today...but the principle applies: houses are very recyclable especially if they are made of wood and fibro; and built on stumps. Even big homes can be uprooted and relocated. I know a few guys in the industry and are a little steeped in house shifting lore.
So thats' gotta be a plus, right? But then I thought a bit more on this attribute and wondered: what if we built houses with relocation in mind?I mean built them where they are designed to be shifted and moved around. Houses could be recycled regardless of time and place.
Then comes the killer option I reckon: what if we established a process where people, bought or were given or rented cheaply houses that they could, like a turtle, move to different places as their needs and job changes required. Yes! Just like Roms/Travellers.-- except we do away with the lore of the horse and cart.
Let's take this a step further: what if we adopt this tiny house notion and gave everyone tiny house like one of these, say, when they left school or when they turned 16 or something? Do you get my drift. It's like having 'your own room" to live in where you wanted anytime in your life. You get "x" amount of cubic space as your own to inhabit the way you want.
How's that for freedom?
This isn't the same as towing a caravan because you don't need a car.And it shouldn't be the same as being sentenced to live in a separate trailer park or a relocatable home village -- but that analogy is useful nonetheless.
It strikes me after living in a home for so long that we have all this space here which is mostly devoid of human presence. We make up for that by decorating and investing items of interest and utility into different category driven rooms: bedrooms for sleeping; kitchens for cooking; studies for studying...150 -200 years ago my forbears, peasant and working class, all lived in the same room because there was only one or maybe two at the most per extended family..Also consider teepees, yurts, longhouses... the only real issue is having consensual sex in privacy.
So we are held hostage to some concepts of what constitutes housing that maybe, we don't need. I mean with little domiciles like this you could arrange them into any number of collectives with shared cooking or eating or recreation or garbaging or swimming or gardening or transit or energy creation or energy use options. And the land, would be a secondary issue---
And when the sea level rises because we don't do carbon reducing things with our houses -- we either put these tiny houses on stilts above the tide or pick em up and move them inland.(The house next to mine, was the post office on Bishop island in Moreton Bay. It was picked up, transited to the mainland on a barge and now lives next door -- five kilometres from the shoreline.)
The contradiction has been that over the past 20 years especially, tents have had a major overhaul and are designed extremely well with very limited materials in play and under the constraints of compactabililty when not in use. But our homes are stuck in limbo land and victimized by our fetish with real estate. Its' the ultimate fulcrum of consumerism.
If you check out the WeeHouse brochure you will see that they build in a lot of attributes and combinations within the confines of their 14 feet wide and 26 feet PLUS whatever(and it varies) long modules.
These could so easily be mass produced in a nationalised government enterprise in a few major centres and folk could individualize them as they require.
The materials components would be dependent on a lot of factors relative to sustainability and recycling such that what I am suggesting is that we don't err on the side of the Back to Earthers, Do It Yourselvers and mudbrickers and presume that organic construction on site is the only way to go. Here I'm talking about 'containers" -- like shipping containers -- we live in.
I think it needs to be pointed out that the residential high rise system much loved in the fifties and sixties is not a viable domestic option. In regard to fire and access issues, 5 stories is probably the limit we want to consider in our neighbourhoods. So the sort of housing I'm talking about meshes with that option -- maybe even like the way you park boats on several levels at marinas.I can't see why not.
but hey think about it --and then consider all those McMansions that are now so often being built which are all costing us the earth...