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Take A Look At The World’s Best Tiny Houses

Don’t you wish you lived here?

With rising rents, a short supply of housing, and more people flocking to cities, it’s no wonder that micro-dwellings have become a zeitgeisty solution for modern living.

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In Big Little House (Routledge, 2015), Houston-based architect Donna Kacmar chronicles the economic forces, changes in legislation, and architectural icons that laid the groundwork for the pint-sized designs of today. Projects range from a 70-square-foot writer’s cabin in rural Oregon, to a 650-square-foot Pasadena pool house, to a multi-family Seattle infill project with three 1,000-square-foot units.

08.06 Marfa 10×10-looking in from under the trellisChris Cooper

“The recent economic crisis made people consider alternative living spaces out of necessity,” says Kacmar, who resides in a 1,500-square-foot townhouse she designed 18 years ago. “There is also much more diversity in the make up of current households A traditional three-bedroom, two-bath house is just not needed by most households but remains popular due to ideas about resale.”

Plenty of gorgeous photos stoke serious house envy and the rigorous analysis grounded in the philosophical underpinnings of what it means to “dwell” and how architects and theorists have explored this concept sets the book apart from a Tumblr. Kacmar is a professor at the University of Houston so it’s no wonder she takes an academic approach. She argues that the economy of small spaces allows for a deeper, undiluted understanding of an architect’s sensibility.

“These projects are more than merely small,” Kacmar writes in the book’s intro. “Their limited scope simply allows for more clarity as we study the strength of the ideas expressed.” And for the folks who are fortunate enough to be in the process of designing their own home, there are handy floor plans for reference.


A “bigger is better” mindset is on its way out and as Kacmar shows, a modest scale packs a mighty punch. “I think we can still have what I call “big” architecture in smaller buildings—a house that uses materials in particular ways, has a clear strategy for bringing in light and connecting to the exterior, and accommodates our lives in very specific ways,” she says.

Big Little House is available now for $50.

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About the author

Diana Budds is a New York–based writer covering design and the built environment.

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