August 1, 2010

"Set on a bluff on the northern most tip of our state, overlooking Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior, the EDGE is a beautiful, modernist box."

"It is more akin to a lovingly crafted cabinet or piece of furniture than a house, really."

I'm fascinated by the "tiny house" phenomenon. This one, in Bayfield, Wisconsin, is remarkable. The video at the link shows what's so cool about it, but listening between the lines, you can tell it's tiresome to have to continually reassemble the table/bed and to drag the giant doors open and shut. I wondered how those doors would do in the snow and ice that's got to be there for much of the year.

There are a few contradictions in the design of the EDGE. First, while designed to make downsizing more desirable, by no fault of the architects, it is likely to appeal to many as a second home or summer cottage rather than a new way of living. And, while it has many green features, it’s created for a large parcel of land. The EDGE doesn’t address the need for density, for humans to occupy less of the planet, though it’s possible some of the design ideas may translate to urban settings.
Because it's a twee fantasy, not a real solution to the perceived problem. Exactly why isn't it at all the fault of the architects?


El Pollo Real said...

I've always been fascinated with trailer parks along the San Diego coast. Some of the parks have existed for a long long time because they sure as hell couldn't spring up nowadays.

Image waking up in your tiny box at the sea, sharing an unobstructed ocean view with no one.

edutcher said...

Why do I get the feeling these shoeboxes are what our betters think we should live in?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

At least we won't have to worry about the children getting sex education at school. In a house this size, they should be able to get a first hand-ring side seat education.

Just like the old days when the entire family lived in a sod hut or 300 square foot cabin. No one had to wonder where the 6 to 9 children came from.

Oh...wait....what is missing from this vision of green utoptia?

Children and family. I guess we aren't supposed to harm Gaia with their nasty carbon footprint. Nix the kids.

Sheepman said...

I'm more impressed with practial solutions to real world problems, like making the most of a cramped apartment in Hong Kong.

c3 said...


-adjective Chiefly British .
affectedly dainty or quaint: twee writing about furry little creatures.
1900-05; appar. reduced from tweet (perh. via pron. twiĘ” ), mimicking child's pron. of sweet

Are you the only one using this word lately or have I just been out of the loop?

Balfegor said...

it's tiresome to have to continually reassemble the table/bed

It's also a pointless bit of design frippery to convert the table into the bed. Just have a sitting table and tilt it up against the wall when you're not using it. Then roll out a futon for the night. Or if you need a raised surface, use a kang. We don't need to re-invent the wheel.

John Lawton said...

Kang wouldn't like that. Only a fool fights in a burning house.

Donna B. said...

I think the fascination with tiny houses is just another attempt to recreate a childhood most of us merely imagine, or over-romanticize.

It's a play house! For play lives.

craig said...

This is all about professional snobbery. If you suggested to architects that they ought to design a good, inexpensive trailer or hunting cabin, they would be insulted.

The uselessness of it all, and the irrelevance of humans to the design, is precisely the point. It is oh-so-precious but when you get right down to it, it is basically prison architecture, designed to prevent the individuals occupying it (I can't say "living", because it appears no one does or has) from being able to personalize it in any way.

I would like for someone to come in and fill up the few available spaces with camo and antlers and stupid truck-stop trinkets just to see the look on the architect's face.

El Presidente said...

I love that they drove 16 hours round-trip to stay in a superfluous house while convinced that they were somehow benefiting the environment.

Graham Powell said...

The EDGE doesn’t address the need for density, for humans to occupy less of the planet...

Have these people never been more than 1 hour from a major city? They should try driving to Midland, Texas sometime. I don't care where you start from, by the time you get to Midland you're deliriously happy to know that human habitation still exists.

prairie wind said...

An early "tiny house": Buster Keaton!