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.
"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 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.
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