Architecture – 5 things Learnt from the Tiny House Movement

Tiny Home Architecture Lessons

As the global economy grows uncertain, homeowners are getting more creative in order to afford essential residential spaces. The tiny house movement has gained a foothold worldwide, encouraging the construction of homes as small as 14 square metres (150 square feet), with many smaller housing models cropping up on a daily basis. Home to residents of all ages, tiny houses have evolved far beyond the cramped quarters of Airstream trailers of decades past and, though they were once considered an architectural farce, tiny houses are becoming an increasingly popular solution to weather the economic storm and increasingly relevant to the field of architecture.

With their increasing respectability – and their popularity increasingly exposing the drawbacks of other housing types – we take a look at some lessons that while key to the tiny house movement, are still applicable in the larger architecture arena. Read on to find out what tiny houses can contribute to the race for better space.

1. Bigger isn’t always better

Simply put, houses with tiny footprints are more affordable to build and maintain. According to, in 2013 the average tiny house cost 9% the cost of a full-sized house. Given that some tiny houses include all the amenities of a normal house in just 14 square metres of livable space, traditional architecturedesign could take a page from the tiny house book and opt for moderately smaller spaces.

2. Capitalize on vertical space

One of the great successes of many tiny house architecture designs is the uncanny feeling of airiness of the interior despite the lack of actual space. Unlike traditional home designs, tiny houses often opt for a single full-height space punctuated by subtle privacy partitions for sleeping quarters and utilities.

Translating this feature into larger homes could mean a more open plan, more daylight, and better ventilation, among other benefits. To preserve the intimacy of vertical space for tiny houses in traditional contexts, architects should examine the nuanced qualities of carefully crafted verticality. Modesty is crucial to the inclusion of vertical space: designers must be cautious to avoid the dangers of soaring space for vanity’s sake.

3. Mixed-use spaces architecture

As many city dwellers know, when space is at a premium functions will inevitably be combined. Everything in a tiny house is designed for multi-use: living room-turned-dining room-turned office is the name of the game. Rarely will an office and bedroom be used simultaneously by a single person, eliminating the need for two separate spaces, so the elimination of single-function spaces is an idea which can be applied far beyond the dictates of tiny houses.

In traditional home construction, this could mean the combination of living room and kitchen, bedroom and dining room or a host of other pairings, consequently eliminating excess or redundant spaces. A tried and true practice, the elimination of programmatically redundant space has been in use for years in the micro-apartment sphere. For homeowners, savings realized through architecture streamlining residential space have the potential to be reinvested in overall housing quality.

4. Connect with the outdoors

By their very nature, tiny houses are forced to relate to their surroundings. More than just a miniature version of an ordinary residence, tiny houses reduce interior space to a sophisticated shelter while celebrating natural surroundings. Designed with a minimally invasive footprint, tiny houses rarely upset their environment: they connect with it. Furthermore, a strategically placed collection of tiny houses can create opportunities for outdoor communal space. In traditional housing terms, this could mean a more holistic approach towards design architecture, with particular attention paid to smaller-scale details that will foster a stronger connection with adjacent outdoor spaces.

5. Architecture Minimalism is key

Tiny houses are fundamentally different in terms of function than their ordinary-sized counterparts and must be designed with this notion in mind. While the interior architecture of a full-sized house can afford ornament and a dose of pomp, tiny houses are restricted to a minimalist approach due to lack of space. When applied to standard residential design, however, the tiny house minimalist method could prove beneficial: by streamlining space and eliminating unnecessary design features, homeowners could maximize functional space by finding beauty in a stripped-back aesthetic. As Mies van der Rohe said, “less is more.”

Tiny House for You?

Have you got a tiny house in mind? Would you like Kiwi Tiny Homes to design you a neat tiny house plan?

Whether it be to house family members close, or gain some rental income, a Kiwi Tiny Home is the perfect solution.  Our architecture design team can work with you to create a wonderful ‘tiny’ home and within your budget.  Talk to us today – contact us here.

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Our product doesn’t support the growth of mould or rot, and the stability of steel protects against cracked linings and cladding. It doesn’t emit gases or other vapours.

Steel is 70% lighter than timber and stronger in tiny homes, so this means more design capabilities.

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