Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read


A Bare-Bones Tiny House For True Minimalists

Sometimes, four plywood walls on a trailer bed are all you need.

  • 01 /06
  • 02 /06
  • 03 /06
  • 04 /06
  • 05 /06
  • 06 /06

If there’s a fatal flaw behind many tiny houses—aside from that "tiny" part—it’s the "house" part. Many tiny homes try to maintain the aesthetic of a miniaturized McMansion, an already flawed style that's is even more dysfunctional at such a small scale.

But in a commission for the outdoor product company Snow Peak, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma designed a palate-cleansing tiny house that Kuma's firm calls the "Housing Box" or "Living Box," which has a certain dystopian ring that is warming and chilling at the same time.

The house itself, however, captures a Spartan homeyness that all those HGTV tiny houses lack. As featured on Designboom, its inside-outside plywood walls invoke the feel of a modernist log cabin. (And to those who are confused how plain-old plywood can look this good, know that the premium plywoods used in high-end architecture and even your neighborhood Chipotle can cost hundreds of dollars per panel.) Meanwhile, a single recessed line of LED lighting inside creates a stark contrast to campy oil lanterns and other faux-backwoods fixtures.

Perhaps the best design details, however, stem from the fact that this house is designed to be moved. It’s been built on a standard dimension trailer, allowing it to be towed by a car legally. And when it arrives at a new location, several wall panels unfurl to reveal windows and becoming makeshift tables to expand the home’s footprint outside. Because ultimately, no one should want a tiny house for the tiny house itself—but for the nomadic, outdoor lifestyle they so temptingly tease.

[All Photos: via Kengo Kuma & Associates]

The Fast Company Innovation Festival