the BIG small home
using big ideas to stay small

How do we do a BIG small home

  • Lets talk about size.  Ryan Mitchell, author of Tiny House Living,  defines that having less than 20m2 person is tiny and perhaps quite extreme. Jason F. McLennan published an article in the Cascia Region Green Building Council’s magazine and article entitled the ‘Righteous Small House’ and proposed a space allocation of between 20 – 80m2/person.  He proposed that a three person house in the USA should be no bigger than 160m2 (53m2/person), with variables, that if there are more than 3 people or a home offices etc. , that area to be considered as green.  Bear in mind that the USA average is 77m2/person, 89m2/person for Australia. China and Russia's at 20m2/person and 22m2/person respectively with the UK, Italy, Spain in the mid 30s. Thus the average among fifteen first world countries being 45m2/person (L Wilson - Shrink that foot print 2013).  South Africa's average house is 156m2 in size (J du Toit, ABSA 2007) with 2,2 people per household (MB- Research 2014) which equates to +-70m2/per person.
  • I propose that a maximum of 45m2/person is enough space for comfortable justifiable living, assuming it has been well designed.
  • To make such a small space generous for living, sleeping, working we have to incorporate the follow strategies:
  • All available spaces should be  optimised for usage and storage. Consider all the spaces that are not used everyday or never? e.g. under the staircase, the roof voids above the ceiling, the space under the beds & under sofas. What about the wall space above windows and doors?
  • Space usage is prioritised.  The spaces where you spend the most time could and should be more generous relative to areas not used that often. The fenestration is then also designed to suit, giving the house ‘big’ space, space with volume, large views,  'spaciousness' despite the overall small size of the home.
  • By designing spaces to be used for different functions or in different ways, for at different times of the day -  translates to a better and more spacious design. Why have one dining room table for inside and one for outside if it can be combined?  Why have a garage and laundry, when the space can be multi-use, especially when the car is not there when the washing is being done. Why have a homework space/surface, knitting space and puzzle building space when it can be combined in a single large table? Why have a bed and a couch when you fall asleep on both, watching TV or reading?
  • Every element is identified, evaluated and discussed with you, allowing us to design details of the structure, finding finesse in the finishes and ensuring that the built in furniture/cupboards are just right. Architecture’s Pulitzer Price winner of 2016, Alejandro Aravena, said that with the right design, sustainability is nothing but the rigorous use of common sense (TED speech transcript 2014).