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Smaller Than Your Living Room: 7 Of The World's Best Nano Houses

"Nano House," a new book by Phyllis Richardson, compiles outstanding examples of small-scale living.

  • <p>The point here is to get as much solar energy and provide as much living space in a compact, thermally efficient, and low-cost structure. According to the team, it’s a "paraboloid section positioned for suitable solar tracking and deformed in appropriate steps aimed towards an optimal orientation for summer (narrowing to the west, widening eastward, and flattening towards the zenith of 70˚)." Since the project was designed for the hot Madrid summer, the group created shaded outdoor space by raising three legs of the building off the ground.</p>
  • <p>Since the project was designed for the hot Madrid summer, the team created shaded outdoor space by raising three legs of the building off the ground. The legs contain services, equipment, and water.</p>
  • <p>The house is built solely of wood, cut from laminated timber using CNC technology.</p>
  • <p>It took a contractor six months to hand-craft the ovoid shape of this guesthouse out of polyester. The interior is lined with a gridlike storage system, which also has compartments for lounging and sleeping.  The nose of the blob and a side door can be opened to create an airy pavilion.</p>
  • <p>This box on a hill has two attention-grabbing features: its Pepto-colored exterior and its interior slant. The color refers to the designers’ favorite building, Ludwig Leo’s Versuchsanstalt fur Wasserbau und Schiffbau, in Berlin, whose external pipework is painted pastel pink. The steep incline is in part a response to the client’s request for a movie theater with raked seating. The lower level is connected to the upper by bright-green ramps, which provide more floor space than traditional stairs. The floors are covered in an anti-skid material common in sports facilities.</p>
  • <p>The steep incline is in part a response to the client’s request for a movie theater with raked seating. The lower level is connected to the upper by bright-green ramps, which provide more floor space than traditional stairs. The floors are covered in an anti-skid material common in sports facilities.</p>
  • <p>Designed by students Christian Zwick and Konstantin Jerabek as a competition entry, Roll-It is the ultimate mobile home. Not only does its barrel shape allow it to be easily transported but its interior rotates like a round Rubik’s cube. It’s broken into three rings: at one end is a sleeping/living area, at the other is a kitchen and bathroom hub, and in between is the “corridor,” which can the user can turn by walking up its slope like a hamster wheel. Apart from providing exercise, the middle wheel functions as a dial to rotate either of the outer rings into the desired position.</p>
  • <p>The interior is broken into three rings: at one end is a sleeping/living area, at the other is a kitchen and bathroom hub, and in between is the “corridor,” which can the user can turn by walking up its slope like a hamster wheel. Apart from providing exercise, the middle wheel functions as a dial to rotate either of the outer rings into the desired position.</p>
  • <p>The architect Michael Taylor describes this one-room house, located on the southern shore of Lake Simcoe, as a “simple but sophisticated Canadian bunkie.” Despite its seemingly complex pattern of louvers, the entire structure was constructed from prefabricated sections in four weeks.</p>
  • <p>Lumenhaus beat out 17 other research universities for the Solar Decathlon title. This unit adapts to changing weather conditions with high-grade insulation, solar panels, and a centrally controlled energy system. A series of sliding doors was inspired by the mushrabiyah found on traditional Arab houses. The stainless-steel screens feature a sophisticated pattern of disk-shaped cutouts; The rotation of each of the 9,000 disks was determined by Grasshopper software, which was used to calculate the angle of the sun and the degree of visibility in different areas of the house. The higher the disk placement, the more light is let in.</p>
  • <p>The idea for this house has its origins in a bike shed. The eco-minded California architect Joseph Bellomo partnered with the cycling enthusiast Jeff Selzer to design a bike-storage unit that could be installed in parking lots, parks, and city centers. The result was the Bike Arc, a structure made of curved steel ribs and covered in semi-opaque polycarbonate. Bellomo adapted the model for housing, using the same basic shape but with the addition of cedar cladding (which can vary depending on what’s locally available) and sliding glass doors. The house can consist of two modules--one with a kitchen and living area, the other with sleeping quarters--that are joined by a breezeway. Bellomo envisions the Arc being used as a prefab housing solution for people who have been displaced by natural catastrophes.</p>
  • 01 /12 | Fablab House, IAAC with MIT Center for Bits and Atoms, Spain, 635 sq. ft.

    The point here is to get as much solar energy and provide as much living space in a compact, thermally efficient, and low-cost structure. According to the team, it’s a "paraboloid section positioned for suitable solar tracking and deformed in appropriate steps aimed towards an optimal orientation for summer (narrowing to the west, widening eastward, and flattening towards the zenith of 70˚)." Since the project was designed for the hot Madrid summer, the group created shaded outdoor space by raising three legs of the building off the ground.

  • 02 /12

    Since the project was designed for the hot Madrid summer, the team created shaded outdoor space by raising three legs of the building off the ground. The legs contain services, equipment, and water.

  • 03 /12

    The house is built solely of wood, cut from laminated timber using CNC technology.

  • 04 /12 | Blob dmvA Architecten, Antwerp, Belgium, 215 sq. ft.

    It took a contractor six months to hand-craft the ovoid shape of this guesthouse out of polyester. The interior is lined with a gridlike storage system, which also has compartments for lounging and sleeping. The nose of the blob and a side door can be opened to create an airy pavilion.

  • 05 /12
  • 06 /12 | Villa Hermina HSH Architekti Cernin, Czech Republic, 635 sq. ft.

    This box on a hill has two attention-grabbing features: its Pepto-colored exterior and its interior slant. The color refers to the designers’ favorite building, Ludwig Leo’s Versuchsanstalt fur Wasserbau und Schiffbau, in Berlin, whose external pipework is painted pastel pink. The steep incline is in part a response to the client’s request for a movie theater with raked seating. The lower level is connected to the upper by bright-green ramps, which provide more floor space than traditional stairs. The floors are covered in an anti-skid material common in sports facilities.

  • 07 /12

    The steep incline is in part a response to the client’s request for a movie theater with raked seating. The lower level is connected to the upper by bright-green ramps, which provide more floor space than traditional stairs. The floors are covered in an anti-skid material common in sports facilities.

  • 08 /12

    Designed by students Christian Zwick and Konstantin Jerabek as a competition entry, Roll-It is the ultimate mobile home. Not only does its barrel shape allow it to be easily transported but its interior rotates like a round Rubik’s cube. It’s broken into three rings: at one end is a sleeping/living area, at the other is a kitchen and bathroom hub, and in between is the “corridor,” which can the user can turn by walking up its slope like a hamster wheel. Apart from providing exercise, the middle wheel functions as a dial to rotate either of the outer rings into the desired position.

  • 09 /12 | Roll-It Institut fur Entwerfen und Bautechnik University of Karlsruhe, Germany, 6 ft., 6 inch x 10 ft.

    The interior is broken into three rings: at one end is a sleeping/living area, at the other is a kitchen and bathroom hub, and in between is the “corridor,” which can the user can turn by walking up its slope like a hamster wheel. Apart from providing exercise, the middle wheel functions as a dial to rotate either of the outer rings into the desired position.

  • 10 /12 | Sunset Cabin Taylor Smyth Architects, Lake Simcoe, Ontario, Canada, 274 sq. ft.

    The architect Michael Taylor describes this one-room house, located on the southern shore of Lake Simcoe, as a “simple but sophisticated Canadian bunkie.” Despite its seemingly complex pattern of louvers, the entire structure was constructed from prefabricated sections in four weeks.

  • 11 /12 | Lumenhaus, Virginia Tech University, Solar Decathlon Europe 2010, Spain, 667 sq. ft.

    Lumenhaus beat out 17 other research universities for the Solar Decathlon title. This unit adapts to changing weather conditions with high-grade insulation, solar panels, and a centrally controlled energy system. A series of sliding doors was inspired by the mushrabiyah found on traditional Arab houses. The stainless-steel screens feature a sophisticated pattern of disk-shaped cutouts; The rotation of each of the 9,000 disks was determined by Grasshopper software, which was used to calculate the angle of the sun and the degree of visibility in different areas of the house. The higher the disk placement, the more light is let in.

  • 12 /12 | House Arc Joseph Bellomo Architects, Hawaii, 753 sq. ft.

    The idea for this house has its origins in a bike shed. The eco-minded California architect Joseph Bellomo partnered with the cycling enthusiast Jeff Selzer to design a bike-storage unit that could be installed in parking lots, parks, and city centers. The result was the Bike Arc, a structure made of curved steel ribs and covered in semi-opaque polycarbonate. Bellomo adapted the model for housing, using the same basic shape but with the addition of cedar cladding (which can vary depending on what’s locally available) and sliding glass doors. The house can consist of two modules--one with a kitchen and living area, the other with sleeping quarters--that are joined by a breezeway. Bellomo envisions the Arc being used as a prefab housing solution for people who have been displaced by natural catastrophes.

Studio-apartment dwellers may feel reasonably content living a small-scale existence. But if transplanted in the country, how many would opt for a similarly sized house?

Driven by a commitment to reduce energy consumption and built space, there’s a growing trend among the eco-conscious to build tiny homes. A new book, Nano House by Phyllis Richardson (Thames & Hudson), gathers 40 of the best-designed examples from around the world—all of which showcase an appreciation for the efficient use of space, materials, and resources.

Will they inspire "real housewives" of Beverly Hills to abandon their McMansions, short of a foreclosure notice? Not very likely. But they may get a few die-hard city slickers wistfully contemplating a simpler life.

Check out the slideshow of 7 houses from the book. And if you want more, it’s available for $20 from Amazon.

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