How Small Can A Home Be? A Glimpse into the Smallest Houses in the World

by Oct 4, 2020Articles, Project0 comments

 

Sheltering is a fundamental issue in Architecture. The ways of living and interacting with the space in which we spend our daily lives is an everlasting debate in the field, which is committed to providing a better quality of life, but also to developing new ways of living. By adding other aspects such as real estate speculation, high housing density in urban centers, the pursuit of nomadism, or even the sheer desire to follow a trend, the debate around small-scale houses becomes even more relevant. And so, we ask ourselves, what is the smallest area required to live in?Discussions about a minimum habitable dwelling are hardly a new phenomenon. At the 1929 CIAM, the theme Die Wohnung für das Existenzminimum (The Dwelling for Minimal Existence) was already attempting to propose solutions for biological and psychological needs through minimal living spaces. Almost a century later, the idea of minimum housing is still a controversial topic that must be addressed, especially since it is often unable to satisfy the individual’s wishes or criteria of well-being.Here we have gathered 14 examples of small-scale residential projects that seem to meet their residents’ expectations, representing the smallest houses on the planet, ranging from 15 up to 1 square meter.

Small Urban Houses

As urban density continues to rise, it is more likely to encounter small-scale apartments rather than houses. However, there are some exceptions such as parasite architecture or experimentations with different ways of living, like the following two examples:

 

Parasite House / El Sindicato Arquitectura (12m²)

Studentboende: Student Unit / Tengbom (10m²)

 

Another important question is how narrow can a house be in order to fill residual spaces or even just to provide a larger open area. Two great examples are the Japanese project Lucky Drops, consisting of a long, narrow trapezoid shape with a lower base of 3.2m and an upper base of 0.7m, and the world’s narrowest house, designed by Jakub Szczesny, with its widest point measuring only 122 centimeters.

The Keret House / Jakub Szczesny

Small Rural Houses

One great example of achieving a good quality of life in small-scale residential programs is building huts outside the urban area. This is possible due to the more intense contact with nature, which is very important for the users’ comfort and well-being, given that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature.

Also, reflecting on what really defines a house and what programs we consider to be essential for that, by putting aside the kitchen or bathroom areas – which can easily be separate structures designed for communal rather than private use – the spaces can become even smaller, as shown in the last two examples below.

Getaway Cabin No. 3 – “The Clara” / Wyatt Komarin + Addison Godine + Rachel Moranis (15m²)

Getaway Cabin No. 3 - “The Clara” / Wyatt Komarin + Addison Godine + Rachel Moranis. Image© The Bearwalk
Getaway Cabin No. 3 – “The Clara” / Wyatt Komarin + Addison Godine + Rachel Moranis. Image© The Bearwalk
Getaway Cabin No. 3 - “The Clara” / Wyatt Komarin + Addison Godine + Rachel Moranis
Getaway Cabin No. 3 – “The Clara” / Wyatt Komarin + Addison Godine + Rachel Moranis

Charred Cabin / DRAA (15m²)

Charred Cabin / DRAA. Image© Felipe Camus
Charred Cabin / DRAA. Image© Felipe Camus
 
Charred Cabin / DRAA

Elsewhere Cabin A / Sean O’Neill (15m²)

Elsewhere Cabin A / Sean O'Neill. Image© Sean O’NeillElsewhere Cabin A / Sean O’Neill. Image© Sean O’Neill

 

Elsewhere Cabin A / Sean O'Neill
Elsewhere Cabin A / Sean O’Neill

Etno Hut / Ema Butrimaviciute (14m²)

Etno Hut / Ema Butrimaviciute. Image© Leonas Garbacauskas
Etno Hut / Ema Butrimaviciute. Image© Leonas Garbacauskas
Etno Hut / Ema Butrimaviciute
Etno Hut / Ema Butrimaviciute

12 Viking Seaside Summer House / FREAKS Architecture (12m²)

12 Viking Seaside Summer House / FREAKS Architecture
12 Viking Seaside Summer House / FREAKS Architecture
 

Vacation House / Hristina Hristova (9m²)

Vacation House / Hristina Hristova. Image© Deyan Tomov
Vacation House / Hristina Hristova. Image© Deyan Tomov
Vacation House / Hristina Hristova
Vacation House / Hristina Hristova

Diogene / Renzo Piano (7,5m²)

Diogene / Renzo Piano. ImagePhotography by Julien Lanoo © Vitra
Diogene / Renzo Piano. ImagePhotography by Julien Lanoo © Vitra

Diogene / Renzo Piano

Diogene / Renzo Piano

Seelenkiste – Spirit Shelter Finding Arcadie / allergutendinge (8m²)

Seelenkiste - Spirit Shelter Finding Arcadie / allergutendinge. Image Courtesy of allergutendinge
Seelenkiste – Spirit Shelter Finding Arcadie / allergutendinge. Image Courtesy of allergutendinge

 

Seelenkiste - Spirit Shelter Finding Arcadie / allergutendinge
Seelenkiste – Spirit Shelter Finding Arcadie / allergutendinge
 

Kudhva Wilderness Cabins / New British Design (5m²)

Kudhva Wilderness Cabins / New British Design. Image© George Fielding
Kudhva Wilderness Cabins / New British Design. Image© George Fielding
Kudhva Wilderness Cabins / New British Design
Kudhva Wilderness Cabins / New British Design

The One SQM House

Architect Van Bo Le-Mentzel has created probably the smallest house in the world. This structure of only one square meter was conceived as an experience for people to reflect on how they define the concept of home, since “you can declare the parks as your garden or the city as your living room,” as the architect states.

© Daniela Kleint
© Daniela Kleint

It is light enough to be carried in a vehicle and offers space to sit, work, lie down, and sleep. The concept emerged from Le-Mentzal’s own experience, as he spent part of his life as a refugee, moving a lot and depending on social benefits or housing.

This article is part of the Archimedia Topic: Tiny. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our monthly topics here. As always, at Archimedia we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us: archimedia22@gmail.com

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