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A Bare-Bones Tiny House For True Minimalists

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

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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.

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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.

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[All Photos: via Kengo Kuma & Associates]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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