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The Pod-Idladla home by Clara da Cruz Almeida

by Nechama Brodie on May 25, 2016 in Architecture
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© All images Greg Cox, courtesy of bureaux.co.za

© All images Greg Cox, courtesy of bureaux.co.za

The 17 sq-m Pod-Idladla compact home isn't about minimalism or no-frills economy — it's about the sheer joy of small spaces

It was when architect Clara da Cruz Almeida was trying to come up with practical advice for a former student, who had moved back home after graduating and was effectively camping in his mother's garage, that she came up with the idea of creating an affordable, pre-fabricated, compact housing module.

"You bring the house, someone else provides the land, you sign an agreement — and then you can build up your savings until you're able to buy your own property, or you simply move the house when you're ready to move," she says.

The compact size of the structure, clearly seen here, means that maintenance or repainting of the lower section of the exterior can be done without scaffolding

The compact size of the structure, clearly seen here, means that maintenance or repainting of the lower section of the exterior can be done without scaffolding

"It can be your site office during construction, or it could become a beach house. Or the landowner could buy the house from you, and use it for rental accommodation."

The specifications of the design were determined by three factors: first, the "minimal space you need to live; the space you really need for things"; second, the size of the boards used to finish the inside of the unit — by using their existing dimensions as a guide, Almeida was able to minimise waste; and, finally, transport limitations (the unit had to be easily transportable).

On a visit to Stockholm, Sweden, Almeida met a landscape architect who had converted a cupboard space into a toilet — as with many older homes, indoor plumbing was a relatively recent luxury. "I measured it, made a plan… And I have wanted to use that plan since forever," Almeida says.

Almeida also looked at Japanese approaches to living in extremely small spaces. "They have very flexible rooms," she says. "It comes from the sliding wall system: what can be a lounge to one person can be a bedroom to another. In a tiny house, every space should have dual usage, if not triple!"

The porthole window above the bed has a practical function — to allow fresh breezes through — but also offers a glimpse of the sky when lying in bed

The porthole window above the bed has a practical function — to allow fresh breezes through — but also offers a glimpse of the sky when lying in bed

The Pod-Idladla therefore has: "spaces, not rooms. You could use the task room to store clothes, or keep your sports equipment. You could have an upstairs study if you don't want to sleep on the mezzanine."

Even the shower is integrated — into the passage space. "Is it logical," Almeida asks, "that a facility you use once a day, for five minutes, should have a room by itself?" The area is fitted with the kind of duckboarding used on boats, so that the timber gets humid after showering, but not wet.

This is an excerpt from the “Nano Home" article from the June 2016 issue of Perspective magazine.

To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

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