Charlotte Leib, Community Outreach Intern
This past June, Yestermorrow hosted its inaugural Tiny House Fair, which attracted over 100 tiny house enthusiasts and many tiny houses to our campus. Though the summer crickets have quieted, the tiny house conversation continues here. Campus is especially buzzing right now with big ideas on small living as thirteen students learn the ins-and-outs of the Tiny House Design/Build process in our two-week course. Follow along as students develop their designs with Instructor and Yestermorrow alumna Lina Menard at This Is The Little Life.
The students, who arrived on campus Sunday, September 29, are among the many that have come to Yestermorrow since 2011 for our Tiny House Design/Build course. This year’s class includes students Canada, Australia, and the U.S. At the beginning of the class, their knowledge of the tiny house design/build process spanned a broad spectrum; by the end, they will share in common the collective experience of building a tiny house and designing their own small-shelter plans.
|Brace yourselves for the roof!|
Check out our Facebook page for progress photos.
Thanks to these conversations and the collective century-plus of design/build expertise offered by Yestermorrow Instructors Patti Garbeck, Paul Hanke, Lina Menard, and Lizabeth Moniz students have begun to “think outside the box” as they work to fit their life essentials within just a few hundred square feet. At the end of week one, the class had raised two walls of the tiny house they are building for client and former Yestermorrow intern Day Benedict. Many students spent Sunday, their day off, in the studio hashing out design details. I caught up with Cate Woulfe and Evan Skandalis at their drafting stations to discover how the class has given direction to their tiny house dreams.
|Cate chiseling a birdsmouth for a rafter.|
Her favorite safari hat completes her worksite outfit.
Cate comes to Yestermorrow from West Hartford, Connecticut with an Associates Degree in Architectural Technology and years of experience working in commercial design and as a locksmith. In 2009, after the economic downturn put Cate on a hiatus from commercial design, she enrolled in Straw Bale Design/Build at Yestermorrow to try her hand at natural building. Now, she’s back on campus to skill up for her next project: building a tiny house.
“I returned to Yestermorrow to jump back into the design process and build my self-confidence in building and its intricacies,” Cate explains. “I want to gain the sense of security that I can always build my own shelter.”
With “sunlight” as her design parti, Cate is designing her tiny house to recall her grandfather’s sunlight-dappled general contracting studio, where she remembers sitting by his side and learning how to draft. She is also planning to maximize passive solar gain in her new 160 square foot home, which will allow her to adopt a more mobile lifestyle as she makes plans for her ideal home, a 500 square foot, off-the-grid small house constructed with natural building methods. While discussing her urge to downsize, Cate reflected “the fewer encumbrances there are, the more opportunity there is to live life differently.”
For Evan Skandalis, a Seattle, Washington native and Outdoor Education major from Evergreen State College, this two-week immersion in the design/build process has been completely new, while the process of pairing down his possessions for life in a tiny house has been a natural progression thanks to his years of hiking and camping.
|At his drafting station, Evan draws out his tiny house dreams late into the night.|
|It's the little details in Tiny House design that count.|
Evan explains how the direction of the plywood sheathing
contributes to proper shedding of rain and snow.
Like Cate, Evan finds the spatial constraints of tiny house design liberating rather than limiting. “If you’ve already subtracted everything, what do you add back?” Evan asked out loud at his drafting station on Sunday, waxing philosophical. He explains his design approach as “not strict minimalism” but instead a consideration of the elements of a house needed to support what he enjoys most in life.
Choosing a six-inch cast-iron skillet he found at the Waterbury fleamarket as his design parti, Evan has prioritized the kitchen and garden in his tiny house plans and has given special attention to how the structure will allow him to relate to the outdoors.
“A huge part of going tiny is tapping into the community: getting to know your neighbors, going to the laundry, going to the park…Some people, like Dee [Williams], choose not to have a fridge, so they rely on their local co-op.”
Evan hopes that by integrating outdoor space into his tiny house, he can live closer not only to nature, but also to his community. He imagines his tiny house as a form of urban infill enabling him to serve as “eyes on the street.”
This sort of symbiotic tiny house settlement has taken root already at Boneyard Studios, in Washington D.C. In Berlin, travelers can get a feel for “urban camping” at the Huettenpalast, an old warehouse in Berlin filled with artfully arranged caravans, campers, and small cabins. The post-industrial “hut palace” attracts travelers who happily trade the anonymous corridors and carpeted quiet of the standard hotel stay for a bed within the Huettenpalast’s kaleidoscope of interior-exterior spaces created by the warehouse, its courtyard, the café, and the caravans. Closer to home, in Portland, Oregon, the Caravan Hotel offers an offbeat urban oasis where visitors can test-drive tiny house living.
We’d love to hear about other spaces and places amidst a tiny house transformation, or what you would choose as your tiny house design parti.
|Caravan Hotel, Portland. Wouldn't you like to stay at a hotel like this one?|