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A Flying Wedge – Extreme 9 Square Foot House

As I imagined towing Nine Tiny Feet down the road it occurred to me that a triangle wedge would be much more aerodynamic. It also seemed like a three-walled house would use less lumber and would be a more efficient shape to provide sleeping space, after all our bodies aren’t square. I also wanted to be more true to the square footage requirement of nine square feet that I placed on myself in the beginning. I think this design is actually pretty successful in meeting those additional requirements, but I can already see room for improvement.

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The floor itself is still nine square feet, except it’s now trapezoidal instead of rectangular. The main difference is the overall shape which looks much more like a a piece of pie than a house. Instead of a sleeping loft I’ve imagined two flip down plywood shelves that cover the kitchen counter and chair to form a flat surface long enough for a six foot person to sleep. The main room isn’t long enough to lay down so I’ve borrowed a little space in the form of a tiny cubby hole from the nose of the house for the occupant’s feet. Sleeping in this design would be like sleeping in a backpacker’s mummy bag.

Like in past designs the toilet is below the chair. Since this design is about exploring extremes I still imagine using a sawdust composting toilet. This bucket toilet would be well sealed from the main living area to avoid odor build-up inside the house. The space it occupies would also be vented to the exterior. You can learn more about sawdust toilets at Jenkins Publishing.

The roof would be metal with a down-spout at the low end to allow water to be funneled off for future use. A storage tank would need to be place in the sharp nose of the house. Due to the triangular shape of the roof a lip would need to be added along the two long sides to prevent the water from simply running off onto the ground. You can learn more about collecting rain water at The Good Human.

Below the window is a planter box designed to reclaim waste water from the shower drain in the main floor and sink. The planter box, or soil box, would have several layers of material and screens to facilitate filtering and processing of the water. You can learn more about grey water soil boxes at Grey Water Central.

There are a lot of good ideas in this design but I don’t think I’d ever build it this way. I really liked theĀ  traditional look of the original design. But I also like how this house is more aerodynamic, uses building materials more efficiently, includes more self-sufficient features, and crams most of the living space into the nine square foot floor plan.

So I’m going to let this cook in my brain a little more and see if I can come up with a hybrid that has more traditional aesthetics, a shed roof for easy rain water collection, and that’s still more aerodynamic than a brick. Stay tuned.

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Nine Tiny Feet Introduction

Posted June 13th, 2008 by Michael Janzen and filed in Design

One night while falling asleep I was noodling over some stuff I’d been reading about the tiny house movement. I had just finished reading Jay Shafer’s tiny house books while on a business trip to Santa Monica. Living in a smaller space sure was making a lot of sense to me, reduced maintenance cost, easier to clean, more time to do the things with the people I love.

But then I wondered how small could a house be and still meet most of the basic requirements, bed, bath, kitchen, work space, lounge space, etc. Like I said I was lying in bed so I imagined how much space I took up lying in bed. That seemed like a good starting place because who would want to sleep standing up? I’m six feet tall and about two feet wide in some places and one foot wide in others. I guessed about nine square feet would be the starting place and then I’d add on square feet for the other stuff. About that time REM took over and I crashed.

But in the morning when I started to draw a picture of the nine square feet required for sleeping I realized that maybe I didn’t need any more space if I added a loft and bay windows. These spaces are not normally included in square footage calculations so it seemed fair to add them and keep my official square footage to nine square feet.

After several concepts and foam core models I landed on this design. I’ll share more of the design as I refine the idea but as you can see the interior floor measures 40″ X 32″ which is actually 16 square inches less that nine square feet (1296 square inches). There is a big porch in front and the sleeping loft extends over both the porch and house under a 24:12 pitched roof (not pictured here). The toilet I’ve select is a small composing toilet used in small sail boats called the Air Head. A seat would cover the toilet when not in use. The refrigerator is a 12V DC cooler made by Koolatron. They make bigger models but I like the P20′s exterior dimensions. The kitchen bay window would also contain a sink and stove. In the opposite bay window a Dickinson Marine fireplace (like the one Jay Shafer uses in his Tumbleweed houses), would be used for heat. Storage will be minimal but I suspect I’ll add in some cabinets once I get started in building it. Electricity will be from solar panels.

I plan to build the Tiny Free House first and then move onto this project. But this project will brew on the back burner all the while and I’ll post design progress as I make it.

OH… WHY?

No I don’t intend to live in it. Building something like this will be an interesting journey and I plan to use it as a home office some or all of the time. I may also use the Tiny Free House as an office too, I just haven’t decided. The other reason is to show people how small, small can be. I’m beginning to develop a theory that nine square feet is all we really need and that every square foot after that is for added comfort, vanity, or people.

So the short version… I’m building a nine square foot house to explore the possibility to satisfy my own curiosity and explore my own values. If successful I hope it will act as a tool to help other people see that the least is the most.