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Living Small The mechanism of change needed in America


Author Joshua N. Warren An Architectural Thesis

TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 Preface 1.1 American Lifestyle Crisis 1.2 Work Description 1.3 Organization 2 Background 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Economic Issues 2.3 Ecological Issues 2.4 Social Issues 2.5 Psychological Issues 2.6 Health Condition Issues 3

The Living Small Movement 3.1 Sarah Susanka “The Not So Big House” 1998 3.2 Tumbleweed Tiny House Company est. 1999 3.3 Marianne Cusato “Katrina Cottages” 2005 3.4 Mobile Architecture 3.5 Micro Apartments 3.6 Summary

4 Case Studies 4.1 Case Study Selection Criteria 4.2 Mobile Dwelling 4.2.1 Prefabrication- The Cypress Model -Tumbleweed Tiny Home Company 4.2.2 Self-Sustaining Mobile- Nanoq -Studio Remote-Controlled 4.2.3 Intermediate Dwelling- Symiant Unit 01 -Studio Remote-Controlled 4.2.4 New Community- Instant (I) House -UGO architecture & design Milan Italy

4.3 Repurpose Existing Construction 4.3.1 Living in Quality Not Quantity -Steve Sauer’s Micro Apartment 4.3.2 Reimagine Existing Construction Westminster Arcade Rhode Island U.S. -Russell Warren 4.4 Case Study Conclusion 5

Research Summary 5.1 The Problem 5.2 A Proposed Solution


Project Program 6.1 Site Location 6.2 Project Rationale 6.3 Design Objectives 6.4 Design Program

7 Endnotes 8 Bibliography 9

Image Bibliography

1 Preface 1.1 American Lifestyle Crisis The American Dream, once thought to be the highest standard of living, is now the primary model that has led to the current decline of the quality of the American way of life. The American Dream started with the understanding that one had the opportunity through hard work, to obtain a place that they called home and provide for their family. But, the American Dream has evolved into an ideal of consumerism; the more objects one obtains the better person they appear to be. This mentality has led to a correlation in the types of homes our culture desires. Square footage and location define the hierarchy in a developed social classification system. Economic class is often referred to as social class because it defines social status around the world. There are three core economic classes that exist in the United States: the upper, middle and lower classes. The middle class is the moderately prosperous class which once overwhelmed the U.S. Increased desire to advance in the social classes has accelerated at an alarming rate in the last century. The lower class is subject to oppression through accumulated debt while the upper class continues to succeed as the primary debt collector. The division between the upper and lower classes increases while the middle class dissolves.

The divide of social class also impacts one’s economic, social, psychological, and physical welfare. These divided aspects of life in the U.S. have created an overall decline in the quality of life for individuals. The upper class purchases large homes and expensive material products in pursuit of a better life. This often results in a decline in the quality of social connection, psychological satisfaction, entertainment stimulation and financial instability. The lower class works maximum hours at minimum rates, permanent space renters with short term goals based on instant gratification. This often results in a decline of quality leisure time, fitness, psychological satisfaction, and financial stability. The quote below displays a factual simplified explanation of the more complex concept we know as the “American Dream”. “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like” - Tyler Durden

In summary, the American Dream has been publicized and portrayed as the highest standard of living. The current idea of the American Dream has largely contributed to a decrease in quality of life. Many Americans ignore the fact that the world has been greatly affected by the undesirable results of pursuing the American Dream.



1.2 Work Description

1.3 Organization

The United States of America has a national deficit of 11.68 trillion dollars as of 2014: 8.5 trillion dollars in mortgage debt, 1.2 trillion dollars in national student debt and 854.2 billion dollars in credit card debt. The U.S. also has a natural resource consumption rate six times higher than the entire rest of the world. The standard of living in America is the direct result of these contributors. The study’s intent is to define how the quality of life is impacted by the way average homes are designed in America.

A need for architectural insight has been identified in preliminary research, to resolve issues that face the United States today. This allows problems that diminish the quality of life to be identified and resolved. Americans must look to architects, literature, lectures, documentaries, precedents, and core self-values to develop a broad understanding of the issues that the living small countermovement is addressing. The complete comprehension of living small and the movement’s pursuit of a higher quality of life should resonate in a way that transforms life.

Architectural insight is an essential part of designing a new way of life in the residential sector. This study is to define the issues that have led to the crisis. Living large has introduced problems that may be solved by the countermovement living small. This investigation will analyze that living small is possible, more sustainable, more affordable, better for physical and mental health, and will explore case studies to suggest possible solutions.


2 Background 2.1 Introduction Living large signifies consumption and large scale living. This set of values has consumed Americans throughout the last century and is used to display social status. Now, the U.S. is faced with problems that can no longer be ignored. This is a result of growing economic, ecological, social, psychological and physical health concerns. The countermovement to living large is referred to as living small, a relatively new concept that is gaining momentum in the United States. Origins of this countermovement can be traced back to the publication of “The Not So Big House” by architect Sarah Susanka in (1998). The living small movement has gained traction through concerns about America’s debt, pollution, social alienation, depression, and physical wellness decline, which has all been created by the lifestyle of living large that was strongly promoted by a century of prosperous car culture.

world” design application. Architects perform many roles: critical thinker, product designer, environmental protector and scientist, construction industry expert, ergonomic consultant while also striving to understand the social and psychological elements that go into design. Living small is becoming a necessary way of living to continue a greater quality of life. Architectural insight is necessary for the living small movement to be successful on a larger scale.

Architects have an opportunity to help lead the living small movement. Due to the scale of work and its potential for mobility, living small homes could be picked up by the product design or construction industry and replicated repeatedly in the future. I believe that the long term success of this countermovement requires a critically thinking industry with a foundation in “real-


2.2 Economic Issues The automobile, though not invented by Henry Ford, was made affordable by his use of mass production. The automobile changed the world. Ford Motor Co. sold approximately 16.5 million Model T’s in twenty years. Ford’s design of the assembly line invented the method known as mass production; this caused a boost in job creation and mass revenue influx in the United States. The automobile industry in America thrived through two world wars and the great depression. The access to personal transportation allowed the suburban movement. The development of suburbia created large scale homes on personalized lots that sprawled cities outside of the dense urban landscape. This resulted in further commutes to get from one place to another and secured dependency on the automobile for years to come. Public transportation systems are more efficient and less energy dependent than operating multiple personal automobiles but the convenience of the personal automobile simply catered to the prideful idea of ‘Freedom’ in the United States. The development of public transportation systems around the country was ignored except in the largest cities. The inefficiency of public transport systems is the result of planning after the

fact and trying to fit into a system that already had an overwhelming influence from the automobile. Personal transportation attributes to large personal cost. Research indicates it and you experience it when you fill up your gas tank or buy a new set of tires. Side Bar Facts Collective data indicates that the average American uses 441 gallons of vehicle gasoline per person annually 3 with the 2014 average gasoline price of $3.55 per gallon 4 that results in $1565.55 of individual cost. The bigger picture includes the refinement and delivery process of gasoline indicating that the cost just continues to contribute to our federal deficit by relying on oil provided by other countries.



As living large grew, the suburban lifestyle developed and the automobile allowed capitalism1 to expand from coast to coast simultaneously. Shipping goods across vast distances became less of an issue and mass production made things more and more affordable to all Americans. Consumerism 2 was then propelled and advocated by the car industry. In the early 1920’s General Motors began creating different models of cars annually which sparked the desire to have the latest model. During times of war, companies promised the advancement in various products once there was peace and more labor forces were brought home. With America’s victory in World War II a sense of optimism was created that resulted in financial growth nationwide. Allowing temporary debt to occur was strongly promoted by General Motors in 1919. “Cars on Credit” was the slogan used to sway clientele directly means that you buy now and pay later so that you don’t have to go without the newest item right now. This was unknowingly the most prosperous campaign by the manufacturing industry and also the destruction of the car industry that would occur 89 years later, which we know as the 2008 collapse.

In the United States the average annual operating costs for a home is $3.77 per square foot. 5 The average home contains conditioned space of 954 square feet per person, the cost for operating a home annually is $3,596.58. The cost for fuel and housing is simply the beginning of the financial struggle. Additional costs that start to consume American earnings are loans or credit cards, vehicle payments, rent to own furniture and appliances, student loans, in-home internet/cable, and cell phones. The increasing costs of living in the United States lead to an economic recession in 2008. The automotive, banking, and housing industry nearly collapsed completely to the point of extinction. People were not able to pay house payments and being removed from their homes. Cars were not being sold because people couldn’t afford them. Homes and neighborhoods became vacant wastelands avoided by buyers due to high operational cost and even higher price tags. When prices to buy a home hit a record low in 2012 there was not a buying frenzy, the recession created a shift in the mindsets of a society who had been shaken up by a taste of truly hard times.



In summary, the economic issues in America developed though the false ideals that possessing material items and obtaining debt is how things are done and will lead to a greater quality of life. Recent generations have pursued jobs based on the salary amounts more often than doing something they are passionate about. This is a result of personal success being viewed through financial success. The quality of life is more than what you own or may one day own. One should not live for things, but utilize things to help you live. Architects have the ability to capitalize on the mindset shift in America because living large has shown its financial forthcomings. The majority of Americans didn’t seriously consider long term goals for housing, such as incorporating sustainability and how it could mean more money every month to go toward a savings account. Also creating quality architectural design over quantity design could create much smaller more meaningful homes that have lower overall cost allowing you to own sooner, if not right away. Architectural insight will help to facilitate the living small movement, while creating financial stability and growth.


2.3 Ecological Issues Earth is currently the only planet we have access to that can substantially sustain life as we know it. Americans consume food, natural resources, and energy at a rate six times higher than the remainder of the world. Our consumption rate will increase if we continue to consume, emit, and dispose using our current processes. Two Standford University professors, Paul and Anne Ehrlich, demonstrate humanity’s negative impact on our own life-support systems and how it can be approximated utilizing the equation I=PAT. Impact = Population x Average consumption rate x Technology The hardest to calculate is “some measure of the technology (T) that services and drives the consumption. Thus, commuting in automobiles powered by subsidized fossil fuels on proliferating freeways creates a much greater T factor than commuting on bikes using simple paths or working at home on a computer network.� 6 The impact of living large has a significant ecological considering energy and building material consumption. Americans prefer to live at a consistent environmental comfort level; this increases the energy load on homes.



Energy Fossil fuels helped to propel the world through the Industrial Revolution of the 20th century. Fossil fuels never should have been a primary source of energy. Americans are entering an ‘Age of Alternative Energy’ that has been making brief appearances throughout time for hundreds of years, but that has been held back due to the convenience of fossil fuels. Ideally, this ‘Age of Alternative Energy’ would have happened following the ‘Industrial Revolution’, but the ‘Age of Computer Technology’ gained such rapid interest that the concern for energy development declined. People were more concerned with making technology that utilized this energy now, rather than worrying about a more sustaining and eco-friendly source of energy. Increasing changes in the weather are largely a result of carbon emissions produced from various sources that burn fossil fuels for energy. In the average American home electricity comes from 48.2% coal, 24.4% natural gas, 19.6% nuclear power, 6.0% hydroelectric power, 3.7% sustainable energy (power source: solar, wind, and geothermal), and 1.1% oil. 7 Many Americans are naïve where energy comes from; most people simply know that if you pay the electric bill, you can plug in electronics and turn on light switches. This lack of

knowledge leads to a general lack of concern about where electricity comes from. Comfort levels that Americans strive to achieve in the home are regulated by the air conditioner. The size of the air conditioner itself, the space it takes to store and the duct work for distribution of air in the home has increased to accommodate the increasing scale of the average home in America. The air conditioner’s condenser (located outside the conditioned space) exhausts the heat that would normally be in our homes and distributes it elsewhere. The heat is typically dumped just outside the home directly adjacent to the exterior wall. The off putting of heat, carbon emissions, and hardscape has increased the earth’s surface temperature. The cycle of increasing heat that contributes to global warming is the heat being dumped into the air, which then is combined with accumulated heat contained by the hardscape such as; drive ways, paved roads, parking lots, and paved sidewalks. The surface temperature of the earth increases around the homes. The surrounding heat never allows the home to stay cool long. The result is that the air conditioner starts to operate more frequently to reach the desired comfort level. The operation of the air conditioner then requires more electricity. That means burning more fossil fuels.



Materials The average small dwelling is 186 square foot while in America the standard home is nearly 2,100 square feet 7, that is nearly 11.3 times larger. Living small uses fewer materials. Material consumption during construction is a concern when considering energy that goes into manufacturing, shipping, labor, and time of construction. In addition to upfront cost and energy use, large homes contain large spaces that have to be filled with material items which are rarely used. Average Americans spend eight hours sleeping, an hour and a half preparation/commute to work, and nine and a half hours working/maintenance/shopping. This leaves you with five hours a day to live life, often one of these hours is your lunch break. The breakdown of average space usage according to activity is; If you don’t work from home 40% in a space outside your home, 34% of your time in bed, roughly 6% at most in the kitchen/dinning/car, and 21% living life doing as you choose. 7

With such limited time in our lives why are materialistic items sought after so consistently? The consumption of material items that are rarely used by Americans tends to happen all too often. Large homes waste material on building spaces such as living rooms, guest bedrooms, storage spaces, family rooms which are separate from a dining room. While connecting spaces with corridors that are used like indoor foot highways with the purpose to commute. These spaces are all conditioned utilizing energy while housing material possessions throughout the day when an average person may only use these spaces a fraction of the time. Larger homes take more materials to create and fill them. Is the desire to have large homes worth the energy and ecological damage, to only utilize the spaces a fraction of the time? No, it is not worth it, considering the time that is spent in those spaces. Living large can often lead to debt and possibly the removal of you from the home completely so incorporating spaces you don’t use to create a higher mortgage is counter-intuitive.


2.4 Social Issues Living large has created a social separation between people. It is easy to see the separation of the suburban communities when houses are spaced strategically so that people can claim personal outdoor spaces. The interiors of homes have transitioned from farm homestead-style housing, when families would sleep in the same room, to homes of nearly complete spatial segregation. The desire for more and more private spaces is the result developed from the desire to own more personal property. The division of space starts as a physically spatial segregation it tends to distance social relationships between inhabitants as well. Over the last century, eating dinner with the family in America was the cornerstone of family social life. Families are more often eating in separate rooms or on-the-go outside of the home. These new eating spaces, such as the bedroom or the car, have turned into divided nesting grounds where conversation is replaced with the mind dulling effects of television and/or bad eating habits.

The Family Dinner Project research indicates that “Studies link regular family dinners with many behaviors that parents pray for: lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, as well as higher gradepoint averages and self-esteem. Studies also indicate that dinner conversation is a more potent vocabularybooster than reading, and the stories told around the kitchen table help our children build resilience. The icing on the cake is that regular family meals also lower the rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents.� 8 The degree of social separation in America is defined by the type of homes, neighborhoods and schools districts people live in. Individuals and families who are perceived as living large are often viewed as successful. The concept of having the newest/largest model resurfaces here in social issues because it developed a sub category that skews this as being in the pursuit of perfection.



“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” - Albert Einstein

The ideal of perfecting ones life is created and judged by us. People have tried to reach perfection in communication; developing specific ways to communicate with one another in ever changing ways. No matter the form of communication prior to social media there was no way to avoid embarrassing moments, nervous impulses, shameful reactions and other various unwanted events that happen in typical face to face conversation. Social media has allowed Americans to create a sense of liberating distance from the typical face to face communication. It allows you the ability to prepare, edit, and revise what you say and also choose who sees your thoughts and day to day experiences. While social media claims to connect us, it only provides a limited sense of connection. The idea of living large has transformed from a physical separation in large homes to a network that allows social segregation and measures self-worth though likes and followers. Excessive media stimulation is the overwhelming saturation of arbitrary information. This leads to the symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) which lessens one’s attention span. The issue is not the lack of stimulation, but it is being exposed to too much stimulation too early in life. Media over stimulation is leading to fewer emotions like sympathy and empathy for others. Actions such as seeing or reading something terrible is often undervalued or

“Technology has given us everything we could ever want and at the same time has stolen everything we really need” -Prince Ea

underappreciated because we see it on a social media feed instead of reading passionate well thought out words or hearing it from an actual person with emotions. Living large has disconnected both physically and socially. This disconnection further declines the quality of life. The idea of social perfection is a false claim to happiness. Being happy isn’t about always fitting into a prefabricated idea of what you should be it is about being happy as what we are. Being embarrassed, ashamed, questioned, challenged and other forms of social turmoil are the keys to a happier social life. These moments give us opportunities to learn lessons, grow and develop socially to allow us to be comfortable in our own skin. The ability to be happy with whom you are and your involvement in society is where real happiness can be found. This starts with living smaller and breaking down these physical barriers we have created within our homes and get involved with the surrounding community. Changing our standards will introduce a quality of social engagement that is truly fulfilling.


2.5 Physiological Issues As discussed in previous sections, living large in America is closely linked with a consumer based society. Consumerism is fueled by the strategic planning to promote the idea of absolution. This tends to put a large amount of fabricated stress on individuals. “Consumerism both functions upon and reproduces an insatiability of desires and needs. The society of consumers thrives on the inability of the system to meet our desires and needs. While the system promises to deliver, it does so only for brief periods of time -- instants, moments, or interludes in our lives. Rather than cultivating happiness, consumerism is fueled by and cultivates fear -- fear of not fitting in, of not having the right stuff, of not being the right kind of person. Consumerism is defined by the perpetual non-satisfaction of the members of a society of consumers.” 9

When you consider the combination of issues that arise from living large, you realize that living for stuff may not be all it is cracked up to be. Americans often allow concerns of financial debt, social status and physical wellness contribute to stress. Physiologically this stress creates a sense of intense and constant worry. This stress can be helpful in various settings with short term applications. Although often the stress is not temporary because the consumeristic mind sets have developed to know only how to continue to pursue absolution because only then you will be happy. This continued stress often turns into depression. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain; it is not a sign of weakness or laziness, but a health problem. Doctors are distributing prescription medicine for depression is at an all-time high. Medically doctors recognize the signs and know how to resolve depression in a safe way to reduce the amount of stress in someone’s life. Unfortunately, Americans are becoming over medicated and under educated. Consumerism incorporates the idea that ‘time is money’ and taking some time to reconnect with the simple things in life is inefficient. Taking medicine can become a quick remedy and a long term destructive force, often the side effect list is longer than the healing effects.



Once you get to this false fabricated idea of happiness based on materialistic items it’s simple to see these things have never had the ability to make you happy. These homes and items are merely an extension or tool for the things we enjoy to do. Living large interrupts good mental health, so it is important to consider and evaluate the things that are worth stressing about. Living small can give you mental clarity by providing the basics and opening opportunities to the world of true satisfaction which is not rooted in materialism.


2.6 Health Condition Issues America is the unhealthiest is has ever been. The car culture over the last century combined with the increasing technology based life style and work force in the last 30 years has taken a toll on the body. It is estimated that as of 2014more than one third of adults and children are obese in America.10 The five leading causes of death in the United States are Heart Disease, Cancer, Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease, Stroke, and Accidents. 10 Three of these can be caused by obesity alone. For the first time in written history people in America are dying from overeating and the lack of physical activity. Eating deaths have previously been associated with starvation as a cause of death, but with the overwhelming desire of consumption we are consuming to the point of death. Living large contributes to an unhealthy physical lifestyle in America. Our homes should not be the only source of entertainment. When homes are placed in the typical American neighborhood that was designed around the car, the inhabitants tend to have less physical activity than those neighborhoods geared towards pedestrian or bike traffic.

There is no natural incentive to be physically active when you can accomplish all you need by using the car. The interior of the homes have become more and more accommodating to our acts of laziness. Electronic technology walks a fine line between helpful and hindering when it pertains to physical activity. With healthy moderation of electronic entertainment, there is minimal to no negative repercussions. American children have an average screen time (time engaged with electronics for entertainment) of seven and a half hours a day while adults utilize about five hours a day for screen time. The lack of physical activity has also contributed to depression in children and adults. Childhood obesity healthcare cost 14 billion dollars a year in America. Simply being obese or overweight can cause high blood pressure, asthma, joint problems, type 2 diabetes, poor self-esteem, and heart disease. Obese children have an 80% chance of becoming an obese adult. 10 Since 2006 the number of obese adults jumped from one in five to one in three in 2014. If there is not a significant lead by example action taken by adults and parents the ration will be one to one for adults and children who are obese before 2016.



To counter this unfortunate issue leading by example is a great place to start. While many factors go into physical wellness addressing living large will not happen overnight. Limiting screen time for yourself as well as children, making a healthy meal plan, and doing things that require physical activity is an essential part of a daily routine. Living small enhances the quality of life and offers many issues by bringing communities together physically. Then transforming the way Americans commute, entertain and incorporating the concept of communal meals, which have shown to help with conscious decisions of portion control.


3 The Living Small Movement 3.1 Sarah Susanka “The Not So Big House” 1998 Sarah Susanka is an Architect/Author in the United States. This book is intended to display how the living small movement has the potential to change the way people around the world think about what really matters in homes, communities, and individual’s lives. “When the place where we live is right-sized for the way we really live and for the things that really matter to us, we ourselves are in balance. Focus on both sensibility and in livability.” 11 The idea of a “not so big house” exchanges square footage for what Sarah Susanka refers to as “soul.” Soul is the quality of the space and is more important than mere square footage. The quality is in the details which create comfort, without the use of an architect in the process it is unlikely to spend time thinking about those aspects of the design. Susanka compares the idea of quantity spaces fitting like sack rather than quality spaces fitting like a well-tailored suit. It is so important in the process for the owner, the architect, and the builder to emphasize on the fitting of your home to you. Well crafted spaces tailored specifically for the owners needs

and comfort desires tend to be the most successful parts of architecture. If your home does not feel like a home you are defeating the purpose of building a home. When considering the design of building smaller it is important to know what is important to the owner. The issue with building prior to living small was that it was common to think every room has its own function. Multifunctional spaces not only allow more to happen in less space but it allows you to create a more meaningful space by incorporating multiple functions. The importance of the “Away” room (a room with acoustical separation from other rooms) is an essential space to incorporate even for the social and physiological benefits it allows for a place of retreat.


“In the same way that music inspires us to certain feelings, space can do the same thing,” - Sarah Susanka

When designing a Not So Big Home Susanka uses this general list as a starting point: • Doing double duty • Shelter the activity • The third dimension o Ceiling height and interior lighting • Make more of the practical o New places for not so new things • Making not so big feel bigger o Diagonal views o Generous circulation o Daylight o Sliding doors o Connecting to the outdoors  Depending on your region outdoors can create a whole other living space o Storage  Storage on Display  Mulit Functional Susanka has simple but straight to the point views. First, the quality of a space far out weights the quantity of square footage. Second, utilizing architects and builders in collaboration is a must to successfully accomplish a “not so big house.” Lastly, Susanka emphasizes the importance of being content living with less “stuff.” These three approaches will create a home that is more about the quality of life as a result of architectural insight.

This was the first of many books for Susanka who didn’t anticipate the ripple effect in society that her book would create. It gave architects a tool to explain the ideas of quality over quantity in ways that were more easily understood by the general public.



“To work well, such a structure has to meet the specific needs of its occupant(s), without waste or excess.” - Jay Shafer

3.2 Tumbleweed Tiny House Company est. 1999 Jay Shafer, founder of Tumbleweed Tiny House, has been viewed as the “poster child” of the living small movement. He took the idea of countering a consumeristic society and the writings of Susanka’s book and created a home for himself that was a mere 100 square feet. It was built on a flat trailer to bypass restrictive building codes. After discovering the national home builders association sponsored bills to enforce a minimum square footage requirement on residential homes. Shafer realized this created a long term financial security net for the association by simply forcing people to not live as small as they desired. The minimum square footage bill ensures the association a financial cut of the housing taxes.

The living small movement is doing more than just making a profit for Shafer. Workshops are held to educate the do-it-yourselfers on how to build these small homes. Lessons are taught to incorporate sustainable features considering the minimal energy load required to operate the small home can put you off the grid very easily. Sustainability was never a component that Susanka or Shafer elaborated on in the origins of the living small movement. It was just something that was the right thing to do so it was incorporated as a general design standard from the beginning.

Shafer, a general rebel to authority decided to start manufacturing these types of homes for people all around the United States. The Tumbleweed name came from the idea that the homes had roots (permanent housing solution) and was mobile all at the same time. The company designs and builds small houses between 65 and 887 square feet.


“People can’t believe it’s only 300 square-feet. Just about everybody who’s come by says it feels so much bigger.” - Marianne Cusato

3.3 Marianne Cusato “Katrina Cottages” 2005 Marianne Cusato is probably the most influential modern American architect you have never heard of in architectural discussions. The Katrina Cottages were in response to Hurricane Katrina that damaged a large part of southern Mississippi and Louisiana. The cottage designs were geared to create a more permanent and humane housing facility compared to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) storage container shelters. The idea to make them smaller was to reduce the cost and increase the ease of construction to have them up and lived in fairly quickly. Living small quickly became a successful alternative in the aftermath of a natural disaster. These cottages allowed insurance claims to cover the cost of the small home and those without insurance were not left in a mound of unpayable mortgage debt. This solution was such a success, congress appropriated 400 million dollars for an alternative housing pilot based on Cusato’s cottage designs. Mississippi now has over 2,800 living small cottages as a result that have replaced homes that were lost in the storm.



“Communication and access to knowledge are not bound to space and buildings anymore. � - Mobile Architecture page 043

3.4 Mobile Architecture Mobile architecture can enter into a landscape, interact with it, activate or submit to it, and simply move on. Mobile Architecture is said to play on our natural inclination to seek out new environments and connect with other people. This exploration increases our positive emotional state by indulging in what we naturally enjoy doing. In the last 15 years, information and communication have become completely mobile. Our computers are no longer tied to our in-home office desk, and we have no more physical ties restricting where we can work. This presents an interesting opportunity for Architects, because we are no longer limited by the idea of permanent static structures. Mobile architecture is a mixture between product design and architecture. This hybrid design is a liberating feeling for the field architecture that can start to evolve away from simply designing a floor plan and extruding walls.

also allows us to adapt to changing climates, career changes, job relocation, and nomadic tendencies. The limitations are no longer bound by the built environment or geographical location. Mobile architecture has previously been utilized for seasonal use such as campers or the R.V., these are not meant to be occupied for long periods of time. Mobile architecture is a fascinating direction for design. The ability to take something that has been known for being static for so long and creating a different perspective is essential to development of the living small movement.

The idea of boundless opportunities feeds our human need to explore when we consider utilizing mobile architecture. As the work space and private life space is beginning to blur a mobile lifestyle becomes more prevalent. This flexibility with mobile architecture



“I don’t make a ton of money. This was appealing because it was affordable and it gave me access to a downtown market.� - Kris King, 36, First Hill, Seattle, WA

3.5 Micro Apartments Micro apartments are a unique take on housing projects that allow many residents to live in spaces that are more financially feasible in higher end parts of the city. These apartments have a much smaller square footage than your typical apartment. Some complexes utilize shared space such as locker rooms, restrooms, or kitchens to maximize spaces. The benefit of living on a micro scale often outweighs the need for square footage. The ability to rent or own a micro apartment is beneficial due to both the location and the lower cost. The financial savings associated with living at a smaller scale allows one to do more outside of home, such as travel and pay off other debts.

month apartment anymore but now you have five of the $1000 per month apartments that may no longer be vacant. Architectural insight can be applied to all aspects of micro apartments. This can range from detailing an interior space to maximize on limited square footage or to developing the shared spaces that are produced to accommodate residences. A micro apartment can be as anti-socializing as apartment complexes are currently. A majority of current apartments are designed by builders to just maximize on profit. Without the collaboration of the owner and architect the well thought out aspects of design are often missed resulting in issues down the line.

Micro apartments have been utilizing spaces that are no longer in use for various reasons. One micro apartment complex in Providence, Rhode Island is utilizing the infrastructure of a former mall to create a community of micro units. Due to the rising cost of urban space, the cost per square foot tends to rise and this can creates buildings with large vacancies. Wanting to make a profit, these large apartments can be divided into many smaller apartments which make individual cost for residents more affordable. Utilizing micro apartment planning like this, you might not have the one $5000 per


3.6 Summary The living small countermovement that surfaced just sixteen years ago has gained substantial interest. The reasoning is obvious, after reviewing the issues that have led to the crisis: living large is no longer an efficient life style. Sarah Susanka’s series of books have allowed clients to understand the importance of quality design, materials, and construction. Jay Shafer has combined ideas discussed in Sarah Susanka’s book and turned theory into reality with his company Tumbleweed Tiny Homes. Marianne Cusato was determined to provide a better quality dwelling for victims of the Katrina Hurricane; these homes are well developed with long term goals in mind. Mobile Architecture is such a cutting edge concept that has developed from natural tendencies and freedoms created by mobile electronic communication. Micro Apartments are an attempt at addressing the fabric of the built environment through living small on an urban site.

General principles for a design approach to living small • • • • • •

Quality over quantity Creating comfort Connect with the site Include a place for one’s own Utilize the outdoors as an extended space Mobility is an option

All the contributors are essential to the developing movement of living small. The main concept of these contributors is to focus on a greater quality of life that is not reliant on an abundance of materialistic objects. Living with less achieves a greater quality of life.


4 Case Studies 4.1 Case Study Selection Criteria The complex issues that have arisen from living large can be countered by dwelling solutions rooted in downsizing square footage and optimizing sustainable systems of operation. The case study should attempt to address a multitude of issues discussed (economic, ecological, social, psychological and health).

The case-studies were selected according to the following criteria: • Prefabrication- The Cypress Model -Tumbleweed Tiny Home Company • Self-Sustaining Mobile- Nanoq - Studio Remote-Controlled • Intermediate Dwelling- Symiant Unit 01 - Studio Remote-Controlled • New Community- Instant (I) House - UGO architecture & design in Milan Italy • Living in Quality Not Quantity - Steve Sauer’s Micro Apartment • Reimagine Existing Construction - Westminster Arcade Rhode Island U.S. - Russell Warren


Figure AA

4.2 Mobile Architecture

4.2.1 Prefabrication- The Cypress Model -Tumbleweed Tiny Home Company The Tumbleweed Tiny Home Company utilizes towable trailers as the foundation for all of their prefabricated tiny homes. The trailers can be pulled by any average size pickup truck. Tumbleweed is a certified RV manufacturer in the United States. The typical mobile home prior to the year 2000 as indicated on the left of Figure AA, has a lower than average purchase cost but a higher than average continued maintenance cost. Figure AA explains why alternate options might not fit everyone’s situation. The home style indicated on the far right in Figure AA is not only affordable, but also mobile and constructed to be used throughout the year. The flagship model of the Tumbleweed Tiny Home Company is called the Cypress model. It is the most customizable and affordable model offered by the company. The Cypress model ranges from 176-238 usable square feet depending on the interior layout. The trailer ultimately determines the boundary at which you can build no further. The floor is framed directly to the trailer so that the two become one piece for added stability. The floors, walls and roof are insulated to ensure the interior condition of the home may be controlled. The walls are framed with plywood then covered with water

proofing. Exterior siding is then applied. The interior walls are finished with gypsum board or wood panel to bring the feeling of a typical home into the tiny house. The Cypress Model has a few advantages with being mobile. An obvious advantage is the ability to take your full time home with you as you travel across the county. The ability to move from one place to another is becoming not only more necessary with the ever changing economy, but relocating is also becoming more feasible with the advancements in technology. The operating systems are customizable in the Cypress model. The complexity of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems can be as primitive, sustainable or grid reliant as the owner desires. The homes can be arranged in various locations. Some Cypress homes have been placed into existing back yards while utilizing community support or isolated in various locations relying on more sustainable approaches.


Figure AB


The size of the Cypress model prevents the unnecessary collection of materialistic items. The home is just the right size for the functions of a home without wasting space. The correct fit allows the home to focus on the quality of space rather than providing space for a false sense of quality. The exterior space of the Cypress model is an extension of the interior space which allows for social and nature activities to take place. The connection with the outdoors becomes more evident and successful because the adjacency is constant.

In the United States the average operating costs annually in a home is $3.77 per square foot. The average home contains conditioned space of 954 square feet. per person, the cost of operating a home annually is $3596.58. The average small dwelling is 186 square feet, while in America the standard home is nearly 2,100 square feet; that is nearly 11.3 times larger. Calculating data utilizing the numbers previously given

Figure AB displays a similar sized dwelling designed by Renzo Piano. The images express the importance of only a few necessary material items that are incorporated into the interior design. The human scale is the driving factor of designing all tiny homes.

$7,917 average operating cost annually@ 2,100 sf 2.20 people, well round to two adults and one child.

Prefabrication has many benefits related to production and efficiency. The Cypress model is currently priced at $57,000 for a complete ready-to-go home. The company also allows you to buy the construction plans for $800. If you’re not quite ready for someone else to build your next home, you can do it yourself.

$7244 of annual house hold savings

To put a few key financial points into perspective, I shall reference information discussed in a prior section.

$693 average operating cost annually@ 184 sf 2 bedroom unit for two adults and one child.

Cost $57,000 / Savings $7,244 = 7.85 years to pay off Cypress home just utilizing the savings in annual operating cost difference. The typical mortgage is 15-30 years. Even if you just utilized the difference in operating cost to pay a tiny home mortgage, you would start owning your home in 8 years opposed to 15 or 30.


In conclusion, the Cypress model designed and build by the Tumbleweed Tiny Home Company is a considerably more affordable living option. The mobile advantage allows you to change location as life changes and can be utilized as an individual unit or as part of a community of homes. Designing the home with careful consideration of human ergonomics allows the spaces to have a higher quality of design with a decreased square footage. The inability to store materialistic items can advocate for activity outside of the home itself. The decrease in the average home’s square footage helps to minimize ecological impact significantly. The home creates little to no impact on the site due to its elevation onto a trailer. The Cypress model is a highly designed way of downsizing a home and making it mobile.


Figure BA


4.2.2 Self-Sustaining Mobile- Nanoq -Studio Remote-Controlled Nanoq is the result of a design competition that occurred from 2009-2010 called “The Artic Perspective Initiative Mobile Media-Centric Habitation and Work Unit.” The program requirements for the design competition were very environmentally demanding and a unique work/life balance was established. Design Competition Program Requirements • Mobile • Media-centric facility • Life support habitation • Work module • Renewable energy supply • Waste recycling • Communications systems • Function in extreme climates as well as extreme temperatures The basic concept for the form design is displayed in Figure BA. A capsule is used to protect things inside. The work/live construction is similar to the function that the capsule provides. The mobility mechanism was determined by the most versatile form of travel: through the changing terrain in the Artic.

Utilizing advance technology Nanoq is able to collect, separate, re-distribute and exhaust the essential elements oxygen and hydrogen. This allows creation of an atmosphere that can be comfortable within the designed infrastructure regardless of the exterior climate. The various components can be found in Figure BB. Other self-sustaining systems utilized in the design of Nanoq • Photovoltaic cells (Solar Panels) • Wind turbines • Gray and black water recycling • Battery power storage • Natural lighting The design is meant to operate as a closed system. Long-term considerations are that the batteries will need to be replaced, fresh water will have to be obtained once recycling has been exhausted and the input of new filters will all have to occur over time. Nanoq also includes a backup system in case issues occur with self-sustaining systems. The interior environment can be maintained for 3 people over 15 days. The backup system can utilize gas heating, diesel powered engine, and life support to maintain a comfortable atmosphere. The overwhelming evidence that self-sustained enviorments can be created displays the possibilities available with modern technology.


Figure BB


Figure BC

Nanoq has the advantage of being mobilized in various ways to reach locations throughout the world shown in Figure BC. It allows different options for different situations. The ability to travel is so essential to humans. Like most living creatures at the primitive level we migrate, following food sources, optimal climate conditions and natural resources. The developments in technology are becoming more and more mobile. Technology creates a desire to be more mobile in our daily lives.

overwhelming positive impact. Currently, the upfront cost would be the largest issue for the average person. A thing to consider is that most products per unit tend to decrease in cost as more units are sold. The advanced technology is utilized to allow Nanoq to function in some of the most extreme conditions on our planet. The systems used allow living completely off of natural renewable energy. This is an incredible milestone in the advancement of technology.

The interior spaces are designed to be functional while the materials and colors are utilized to create comfort. The whole unit is approximately 807 square feet (Figure BD). The majority is utilized for the specialized work spaces, which increases the corridor area. Nanoq has very specific functions that require specific and technical spaces to be individualized. It is simple to imagine how utilizing spaces for multiple functions could decrease the overall square footage. In conclusion, Nanoq is a prime example of selfsustaining technology that could be applied in homes across the world. The reliance on fossil fuels is sometimes impossible due to the difficulty to obtain supplies in extreme terrain and climates. If you applied these principles in areas where it is easy to obtain fossil fuels, but you simply chose sustainability, we could create an

Figure BD


Figure CA

Figure CB

Figure CC


4.2.3 Intermediate Dwelling- Symiant Unit 01 -Studio Remote-Controlled The Symiant Unit 01 is a small dwelling used as a stepping stone to move out of poverty. It is considered an intermediate dwelling because its resident is in-between social classes, which blurs the line of public vs private. The design is dependent on generous people and companies that would voluntarily mount the Symiant Unit 01 to the wall of their establishment. The unit is then allowed to plug into the existing water and electrical systems free of charge for a year before it would rotate to another generous establishment. (Figure CA) Symiant Unit 01’s construction is intended for long term use. It is also a mobile structure that has a different resident annually. The essentials are provided by the unit to allow a place of refuge while creating an opportunity for the individual to become involved in society. The unit also provides a place to make hot meals, rest in comfort without fighting the outdoor elements, store belongings and call one’s home.

is important when applying for jobs and/or government aid. An address allows a constant contact point. Without this, most jobs are reluctant to hire individuals. While government aid requires a lot of paper work over an extended period of time, the address allows an easier form of communication for the applicant. The exterior envelope of Symiant Unit 01 is created with carbon fiber which is durable and lightweight. The exterior surface also allows a unique opportunity to create income by allowing it to be treated as a billboard (Figure CC). The proceeds from the sponsors go directly to the resident which creates a daily spending fund for items not provided by the unit itself. The exterior form design of the Symiant Unit 01 allows the space to be easily transformed (Figure CC) which can create a private exterior space. This transformation provides space for visitors and creates a place to enjoy leisure time while relieving stress through social interaction.

An address is also created by the placement of the unit. It incorporates a mail slot. This may not seem extremely important to those who have always had an address to receive mail. The significance of an address


Figure CD


In conclusion, Symiant Unit 01 provides the essentials to those in the most need that were living on the streets. There is great value in simplicity; it can teach us what is truly valuable once we remove material possessions. The program created emphasizes on utilizing the unit as stepping stone to get off of the streets. Symiant Unit 01 displays a hybrid way of living that fits different circumstances. What this project teaches is that individuals need change. One typology of dwelling may not be the answer, but the right fit dwelling for the situation seems to be a more correct approach.


Figure DD

Figure DA

Figure DB



Plan View


4.2.3 New Community- Instant (I) House -UGO architecture project location Milan Italy The Instant (I) House project is a mini housing unit for young-people in a metropolitan area. The design criteria noted it must respond to urban noise and air pollution. The dwelling is mobile, prefabricated, light weight, disaster resistant and sustainable. The design intentions are quickly met with the decision of the construction materials. (Figure DA) The cutting edge technology used in the design allows for a rapid construction process. The individual units continue to obtain a higher level of sustainability by: minimally invading the site, using a small area for the foundation, utilizing a passive ventilation system to cool the home and solar panels to provide electricity. (Figure DB) The simplified organization of the home within a neighborhood expands the design project far beyond the criteria. The mobile capabilities of the prefabricated structure allows for a variety of layout options that have the possibility to change over time. (Figure DC)

Customization allows the homes to be correctly fitted to the resident(s) depending on the individual’s situation. The ability to transform the home over time maximizes benefits achieved through living small by not allowing you to live outside of your means. The benefits of living small are created through the details of the design. Exploring the section and plan view of the Instant (I) House (more specifically the Type II home indicated in Figure DC), the drawings display the specifics of how this home correctly fits the resident according to scale and function. The floor plan incorporates the essentials of a desired home without wasting valuable space. All the spaces within the home are multifunctional allowing changes in program to accomplish desired day to day layout. The walls are covered in a felt material which helps to maintain a desired acoustical standard within the concrete structure. It also creates a unique storage system. (Figure DD) This storage approach uses volume as opposed to just considering plan view square footage. The design consideration is a large benefit of a small home. Every square foot is being maximized.


Figure DC

Figure DE


Figure DF

The Instant (I) House has a pro-community potential. The developed project didn’t elaborate through research on the potential of utilizing the units to create a community. The desire seems subliminal. Its placement in a community setting which is captured within the renderings. (Figure DE, Figure DF) The units would allow the configuration of a smaller scale neighborhood with an emphasis on the pedestrian, bike and public transit culture. Due to the homes promotion of walkability and cycling there is no room for car storage on the site. The scale of the individual homes helps to diminish the idea of ownership to the site. With a small connection to the ground and overall slender form, site impact is minimized visually as well as spatially. This alters society’s current desired proportions of the home. Individual ownership can be blurred. This allows for communal ownership to arise socially. Advocating design that allows a community to strengthen as a society is a positive approach to any design, especially in a small community that often shares resources.

In conclusion, the Instant (I) House is complex in its heightened design considerations, but simplistic in its design outcome and spatial impact. This type of home is the right fit for a particular time in life when physical mobility comes with ease. The home allows an alternate to current neighborhoods and attempts to address many issues that suburbia and the car culture have created. Eliminating roads within these neighborhoods and creating paths helps to develop the landscape by un-developing the infrastructure. Determining the scale based upon human scale is the overwhelming factor that transforms these homes and neighborhoods into higher quality spaces, allowing meaningful social interaction and a sustainable habitation.


4.3 Repurpose Existing Construction

4.3.1 Living in Quality Not Quantity -Steve Sauer’s Micro Apartment Steve Sauer is an engineer who lives with his teenage daughter in Seattle, Washington. In 2006, he was seeking a storage unit to house his bike collection and various materialistic items. Steve found a storage room in the basement of his current apartment complex and placed his objects within as indicated in Figure EA. This storage unit was a 182 square foot place to store items at first, but Steve knew it could be more of a living space when he considered the window and ceiling height of the room. After taking some time to build up his savings account, by selling a large amount of the materialistic items, he then decided to use that money to renovate the storage unit into a micro apartment. Steve never had any plans drawn up for the remodeling. The micro-apartment took 4 years to design and build. The important factor to be successful during the do it himself project, Steve claims, was that he kept in mind the criteria he set for himself.

List of the criteria 12 • Simple o Nothing duplicated o Easy to maintain o Easy to operate • Compact o Smallest ‘complete’ home o No wasted space o Quick to clean • Essential o Room for current needs only o No secondary-storage o Everything accessible/functional • Healthy o “Green” materials o Filtered air o Easy to keep clean • High Quality o Pure, solid materials o Reusable, recyclable materials o Well-designed, well-crafted


Figure EA 11' - 3"

7' - 6"

3' - 9"


Seating Area

Shelf Storage

4' - 0"

Twin Size Bed

16' - 3"

Table Vanity 3' - 1"

Overhead Shelf

Shelf Storage

General Storage

3' - 6"


Overhead Shelf

TV Lounge

Hanging Cloths

Sidewalk Window Entrance


2' - 1"

Below Floor Soaking Tub

Figure EB



3' - 7"

Sink Shower

Twin Size Bed

Overhead Bike Tire Rail

“Living with a smaller square footage allows me to live in a higher quality level home than my income would allow in a normal sized apartment here in Seattle”13 said Steve during an interview. The space is successful primarily due to the stacking of spaces in a room with 10’ 4” tall ceilings. The beds are stacked above the storage and restroom area while the seating area is stacked above the TV lounge. This ability to stack allows the square footage to double by utilizing more of the volume in that area. Figure EB is a diagram compiled from information in interviews and photographs that displays the floor plan at various elevations: First Floor 0’, Second Floor 4’ and Third Floor 7’. The storage units and mechanical rooms are located in the basement of the apartment complex in downtown Seattle. This normally would be an unsettling concern when you have an existing HVAC network that creates a web of infrastructure within the elevation range of 8’10’. Through careful planning and consideration Steve has actually been able to capitalize on this existing infrastructure. The idea of being sustainable is actually an approach to be efficient by proximity. Steve worked out the numbers that would determine the heat transfer given by the passing heat and the finishing material that would cover the duct work. The correct finishing material would allow a comfortable percentage of heat transfer. He is now able to use the heat that is lost along the path

of travel to the apartments above to heat his own micro apartment. Most of the furniture systems in the micro apartment are made by Ikea, and the parts are rearranged to accomplish the design Steve envisioned. Teaming up with a local metal fabricator, he built a durable carbon steel framing system to accomplish the stacking of spaces. The photographs in this section help display the before and after conditions of the now micro-apartment that was converted from a former storage unit. The advantage of remodeling an existing construction is that typically the majority of the infrastructure and mechanical systems are in place, which tends to decrease overall upfront cost. Re-designing existing structures into efficient micro apartments will allow outdated or unused spaces to become productive quality spaces once again. The micro apartment has allowed a primer location in downtown Seattle as well as a high quality of design at a minimum continued operation/maintenance cost.



In conclusion, Steve was able to build the apartment he desired. Instead of increasing square footage, minimizing it has allowed the quality of design to also increase a quality of space. Steve’s 182 square foot micro apartment is successful in maximizing space because he was able to stack spaces and design a volume instead of a plan. The criteria list used to create this project could be utilized as a concept for creating micro apartments around the world to help address vacancy building and high population density issues.



4.3.2 Reimagine Existing Construction -Westminster Arcade Rhode Island U.S. -Russell Warren, Architect The Westminster Arcade was originally built in 1828; it was the first three story indoor mall in America. This building was once the heart of the financial district in Providence, Rhode Island. Shortly after the 2008 recession, the building was boarded up with anticipation to be closed permanently. In 2010, the development company Granoff Associates teamed up with Northeast Collaborative Architects (NCA) to design a large restoration and remodel of the Westminster Arcade. The restoration and remodel would convert this indoor mall into a multi-purpose residential and retail center. The core idea of Evan Granoff (lead on the project)

The three stories within Westminster Arcade are broken up into two zones retail/restaurants on the first floor and residential micro apartments on the second and third floor. The retail spaces are 350-370 square foot at the cost of $1,000 per month for destination retail, including the only indoor downtown bicycle shop. The second and third floor includes micro apartments ranging from 225-450 square foot at a cost starting at $550 a month. The dwelling units incorporate at the base layout a full kitchen, restroom, living area and bedroom. (Figure FA) If the resident needs more space than the individual units can provide, a game room, TV room and porches are provided for residential use. The first floor will be accessible to the general public but the residential floors are not permitted by the public unless accompanied by a resident.

“This project would keep some of the well-educated young people in Providence after graduation from the universities. The idea of affordable housing in a primary location is the key to keeping the money local in the end. By allowing the young graduates a place to live will help grow the future opposed to them moving out of the state to obtain jobs simply because living in downtown Providence is a bit pricey for the younger crowd.� 14


Figure FA


Figure FB

The building section indicated in Figure FB displays the unique relationship between retail and residential housing under one roof. The design decision to keep the windows along the outer wall on the second and third floor is essential for making the apartments feel more inviting by maximizing the natural daylight. Allowing the nave to continue with a triple height ceiling as it was originally designed lends to the familiar shopping experience. The offered additional features include: bicycle storage, on-site laundry, basement storage, close proximity to a parking garage and easy access to public transit. The interactions between residents have increased compared to your typical apartment construction by offering valued public spaces such as a residential TV and game room.

In conclusion, micro apartments are an innovative housing model that offers access to urban amenities at affordable prices. The project utilized existing architecture that has been in place for nearly 200 years. The concept of remodeling to create more efficient/ multi-functional spaces can be carried through to other locations around the U.S. Buildings are becoming more vacant due to the technology shift from hard labor to an electronic driven work force resulting in a financial shift in the economic industry. Incorporating micro retail stores encourage financial growth but with a safety net for small businesses. Micro apartments offer low rent payments and a supporting network of surrounding stores, while providing the convenience of housing directly above retail becomes a great network both for the consumer and shop owners.


4.4 Case Study Conclusion Research indicates that living small is about correctly fitting the design of a home to the person(s) using the space with careful consideration of the function the spaces are intended to provide. The primary consideration in current design is how to store material items; it is important to make this the last consideration in living smaller. Designing the home with careful consideration of human ergonomics allows the spaces to have a higher quality of design with a decreased square footage. Minimized square footage allows sustainability to become easily obtainable. Maximize the square footage of the home by creating multifunctional spaces. Value is found in simplicity; it can teach us what is truly valuable once we limit material possessions and square footage. Introducing mobility to the home is a benefit that addresses the re-emerging mobile lifestyle.


5 Research Summary 5.1 The Problem Large scale living is the leading contributor to the overall decline in the quality of American life. As research has shown, consumerism, which drives the desire to live at a large scale, affects various aspects of life. The American concerns regarding national debt, pollution, consumption rate, social alienation, depression, and physical wellness become the motivations for change. The 2008 recession exploited the negative effects of an American social system based on consumerism. The recession has caused voids throughout our cities in the form of vacant commercial space and foreclosed homes. These voids are more than physically empty buildings they are also people displaced from their homes and jobs that are no longer available. The issues that Americans face with living at a large scale are: economic, ecological, socialistic, psychological, and physical in nature.


5.2 A Possible Approach Towards a Solution Americans need a redesign of the current residential sector. • The current way we design and build our homes is outdated and we are paying for it dearly • Homes should be right fit to the user(s) • The small scale dwellings will redefine what is considered a neighborhood in America and encourage social interaction with the increased use of shared resources • A network of small scale homes are necessary to fit multiple life situations • Small scale homes will actively promote anti- consumerism, financial as well as energy independence, social codependency, psychological liberty, and positive physical wellness

The case studies indicate that small scale living is a viable and successful alternative solution for the current home construction in America. • Design the volume • Three primary spaces needed: Living, Working and a Third Place (an alternative place for leisure) • Square footage is the most effective sustainably and ergonomically, between 80 and 500 depending on the occupancy load ergonomically • Use creative storage solutions • Types of mobility o Self-propelled o Towable o Compartmentalized • Spaces o Sleeping o Kitchen o Restroom o Seating o Outdoor o Leisure o Social


6 Project Program 6.1 Site Location

Layers to narrow down the site:

Site Selection Criteria: • • • • •

Within or close to a dense urban area Connection to public transport Walkable or potential for a walkable community Multi-generational occupancy Vacant lot(s) or vacant structures

The search for a site first took me to the walkable cities with an already established pursuit for a higher quality of life in living small such as Portland, Seattle, etc. The design is intended to be a place of influence so I expanded my search. Los Angeles is what I discovered as the best American city to implement this program. Los Angeles is a city over run by infrastructure dedicated to the car. A typical daily commute from home to work is approximately 45 minutes. It is often ranked amongst the most difficult commutes in America. The city has an expanding public transportation system that could be utilized more efficiently with the incorporation a living small residential network.

• public transportation network • higher education facilities • progressive generational residencies (art districts and tech districts) • walk/cycle routes • vacant locations

Description: Site Location: 34°02’40.28”N 118°13’58.88”W This site runs between 3rd and 4th street. It is just West of the Southern California Institute of Architecture and East of Shimoda Design Group. One layer on the city is so new to Los Angeles it was not visible in most data. It is the ‘One Santa Fe’ a new arts/micro residentianal/retail mega-complex. One Santa Fe is located just East of the Southern California Institute of Architecture. This further expands the design opportunities to create a much needed network of living small homes within the city of Los Angeles.


California Site

Los Angeles



Site Proximity to Downtown

Site Within Districts


Less House More Home

6.2 Project Rationale

6.3 Design Objectives

The majority of people in America think that living large is a sign of success and an obtainable goal for all. The truth is that the overwhelming oppression of debt and social disconnect created by this pursuit has to change. If it does not, we will continue to grow the lower class and increase the amount of homeless living on the streets. The base line is that living large is simply an unintelligent way of life. This proposal will display how a community can live smaller and how community interaction can play a major role in creating a higher quality of life.

Design a site that is a functional exhibition for a residential community living smaller. These individual dwellings are not to be toured but the entire site and its connections to the surrounding context are to be displayed as an alternative way of life. Master plan the site and generally design the dwellings and how they would function on the site.

Living smaller will address the American lifestyle crisis as a positive alternative. The increased quality of life directly addresses: economic stability, ecological sustainability, social interaction, psychological benefits, and positive physical welfare.

The site should allow space tailored for various types of small dwellings. Assume various degrees of mobility and site occupancy. The location allows for the site to have energy supply from the cities grid, but sustainable design is always to be incorporated. Utilize city resources such as car sharing, bicycle rental, electric car ports, dog parks, parking, community garden and parks. Different dwellings for various life situations: • Homeless • College student • Young professional • Family • Elderly


Homeless Vehicle incorporated Shelter Function Mobile through personal power Power supply hook up Minimum operation cost Durable Personal entertainment Entertain others Work area Semi mobile Self-sustaining Family space Multiple sleeping quarters Easy egress

College Student

Young Professional


Elderly 90

6.4 Design Program

College Dormitory • Create the essentials needed to survive the college life while making it more affordable than the current model • Incorporating a mode of transportation is important considering most college students don’t own personal vehicle

The proposed project redefines a neighborhood model and five primary housing typologies: homeless shelter, college dormitory, post graduate, homestead and retirement home. Spatial Layout The site and individual dwellings do not have an actual defined square footage or volume size as of yet.

Post Graduate • Location is key followed shortly by rent cost • A place large enough to entertain guest while also being mobile allows the ability to adjust to the professional world changes at little cost

The site will be programmed after more needs for the homes are discovered. The dwellings should be no larger than 500sqft. Assume various degrees of mobility.

Homeless Shelter


• A source of temporary stability to allow an opportunity of advancement off of the streets long term. • Incorporating a mode of transportation as part of the dwelling can allow an additional benefit to someone with so little • Durable material and construction is key to maximize on the use of the unit from one resident to the next

• Provide a home for children to grow and families to function

Elderly • Allow the older generation to explore not expire • Incorporating a mode of transportation as part of the dwelling can allow an additional benefit of having to maintaining less.


7 Endnotes 2.2 1 Capitalism: an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. 2 Consumerism: the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods. 3 U.S. Energy Information Administration (www.eia.deo. gov) and Bureau of Transportation Stastics (www.bts.gov)

2.5 9 “What’s The Difference Between Consumption and Consumerism?” About Education. Web. 2.6 10 “Adult Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 Sept. 2014. Web. 7 Oct. 2014.

4 “National Average Prices.” AAA Newsroom. AAA, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. <fuelgaugereport.aaa.com>.

3.1 11 Susanka, Sarah, and Kira Obolensky. The Not so Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live. Newtown, CT: Taunton ;, 2008. Print.

5 “NAHB: Lower Operating Costs Mean Buyers Can Afford a Higher-Priced Home-If It’s New.”Housing Economics.com. 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 7 Oct. 2014.

4.3.1 12 Sauer, Steve. “Impetus/Philosophy.” Pico-dwelling. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

2.3 6 Ehrlich, Paul, and Anne Ehrlich. “Too Many People, Too Much Consumption.” Yale Environment 360. 1 Jan. 2008. Web.

13 DIY-crafted Seattle Micro Apartment: 8 Spaces Stacked in 182 Sq Ft. Perf. Steve Sauer. Youtube, 2013. Film.

7 U.S. Energy Information Administration (www.eia.deo. gov) and Bureau of Transportation Stastics (www.bts.gov) 2.4 8 Fishel, PH.D, Anne. “FAQ - The Family Dinner Project.” The Family Dinner Project. 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 7 Oct. 2014.

4.3.2 14 Executive Suite 7/7/2013: Evan Granoff on Providence’s Arcade Redevelopment. Perf. Evan Granoff of Granoff Associates. Youtube, 2013. Film.


8 Bibliography Susanka, Sarah. “Not So Big Website.” Thenotsobighouse. com. 7 Sept. 2014.

“What Is The Tiny House Movement?” The Tiny Life. Web. 7 Sept. 2014.

Susanka, Sarah, and Kira Obolensky. The Not so Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live. Newtown, CT: Taunton ;, 1998. Print.

“Bike RV Project - Design.” ALEXANDER MAIN. Web. 7 Sept. 2014.

Susanka, Sarah, and Kira Obolensky. The Not so Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live. 10th Year edition Newtown, CT: Taunton ;, 2008. Print. Codrescu, Andrei, and Robert Kronenburg. Mobile The Art of Portable Architecture. Ed. Jennifer Siegal. New York: Princeton Architectural, 2002. Print. Stewart, Jude, and William Mitchell. More Mobile Portable Architecture for Today. Ed. Jennifer Siegal. New York: Princeton Architectural, 2008. Print. Kim, Seonwook. Mobile Architecture. Seoul: DAMDI Pub., 2011. Print. “Overview of Greenhouse Gases.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2 July 2014. Web. 7 Sept. 2014. Horton, Jennifer. “How Sustainable Communities Work.” HowStuffWorks. HowStuffWorks.com. Web. 7 Sept. 2014.

“Effects of the 2008–10 Automotive Industry Crisis on the United States.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Web. 7 Sept. 2014. “National Average Prices.” AAA Newsroom. AAA, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. <fuelgaugereport.aaa.com>. “NAHB: Lower Operating Costs Mean Buyers Can Afford a Higher-Priced Home-If It’s New.”Housing Economics. com. 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 7 Oct. 2014. Ehrlich, Paul, and Anne Ehrlich. “Too Many People, Too Much Consumption.” Yale Environment 360. 1 Jan. 2008. Web. Fishel, PH.D, Anne. “FAQ - The Family Dinner Project.” The Family Dinner Project. 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 7 Oct. 2014. “What’s The Difference Between Consumption and Consumerism?” About Education. Web.


“Adult Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 Sept. 2014. Web. 7 Oct. 2014. Sauer, Steve. “Impetus/Philosophy.” Pico-dwelling. Web. 9 Nov. 2014. DIY-crafted Seattle Micro Apartment: 8 Spaces Stacked in 182 Sq Ft. Perf. Steve Sauer. Youtube, 2013. Film. Executive Suite 7/7/2013: Evan Granoff on Providence’s Arcade Redevelopment. Perf. Evan Granoff of Granoff Associates. Youtube, 2013. Film.


9 Image Bibliography (Page Number) Citation (Cover Page) Warren, Josh. 11%. Digital image.

(18) The Average American’s Annual Energy Consumption. Digital image. Eia.deo.gov and Bts.gov, n.d. Web.

(10) American Consumerism. Digital image. The Rise of American Consumerism. Pbs.org, n.d. Web

Power Hungry. Digital image. Good and Column Five, n.d. Web.

(12) Fight Club Quotes. Digital image. 417 Quotes from Fight Club. Goodreads.com, n.d. Web.

(19) Grass Wheel. Digital image. Inhabit.com, n.d. Web.

(14) Giving to the Poor. Digital image. Above (artist). Wikipedia.com, n.d. Web. (15) The Real Cost of the American Dream. Digital image. Topaccountingdegrees.org, n.d. Web. (16) Reller, Armin, and Tom Graedel. How Long Will It Last? Digital image. University of Augsburg and Yale University, n.d. Web. (17) Nuclear Powerplant. Digital image. World-nuclear. org, n.d. Web.

Chiu Chih’s Survival Kit. Digital image. Designboom. com, n.d. Web.

(20)The Secret Life of Garbage. Digital image. Businessdegree.net, n.d. Web. (22) Problems of Modern Society. Digital image. Koren Shadmi, n.d. Web. (23) Mobile Lovers. Digital image. Banksy.co.uk, n.d. Web. (24) Brain wash. Digital image. 9gag’s, n.d. Web. (26) Fewer Wrinkles, Thinner Arms. Digital image. Today. com, n.d. Web. (27) I’m Gonna Shine. Digital image. Iluvrichel.tumblr. com, n.d. Web. (28) Living with Less. Digital image. Masters-in-humanresources.org, n.d. Web.


(29) Death by Consumerism. Digital image. Angel BOLIGAN CORBO, Cartoongallery.eu, n.d. Web.

(40) Marianne Cusato. Digital image. Modernhome.us, n.d. Web.

(30) Companhia Athletica: Break Out, 3. Digital image. Adsoftheworld.com, n.d. Web.

(41) Marianne Cusato Sketch. Digital image. Hud.gov, n.d. Web.

(31) McDonaldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sign. Digital image. Usatoday.com, n.d. Web.

(42) Mobile Architecture Book Cover. Digital image. Scan

(32) Why Are Our Children Still Obese? Digital image. Anytime Fitness, n.d. Web. (33) Death by Technology. Digital image. Angel BOLIGAN CORBO, Cartoongallery.eu, n.d. Web. (36) Sarah Susanka Portrait. Digital image. Susanka.com, n.d. Web.

(43) Graphic diagram. Digital image. Scan (44) Amazing Micro-Apartments. Digital image. Forbes. com, n.d. Web. (45) Space-Saving Design Ideas For Small Homes. Digital image. Boredpanda.com, n.d. Web. (50) Warren, Josh. Figure AA. Digital image.

(37) Bed Under Stairs. Digital image. Pinterest.com, n.d. Web.

(50,53, 54) Cypress. Digital image. Tumbleweedhomes. com, n.d. Web.

(38) Jay Shafer in Small Home. Digital image. Timothy Archibald, Workbook.com, n.d. Web.

(52) Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Digital image. Rpbw.com, n.d. Web.

(39) Jay Shafer. Digital image. Fourlightshouses.com, n.d. Web.

(59) Warren, Josh. Figure BD. Digital image.


(56, 58, 60, 62, 63, 64, 66) Mobile Architecture Digital image. Scan

(68, 70, 72) Sauer, Steve. Photos. Digital image. Oixio. com/pico-dwelling, n.d. Web.

(87) Vacancy lots. Digital image. La Open Acres, n.d. Web.

(70) Warren, Josh. Bicycles. Digital image. Warren, Josh. Figure EB. Digital image. (73) Tiny Houses. Digital image. The Tiny House Life, n.d. Web. (74,76) Arcade Providence. Digital image. Arcadeprovidence.com, n.d. Web.

Maps. Digital image. Googlemaps.com, n.d. Web.

District Breakdown. Digital image. Downtownla.com, n.d. Web.

(90) Warren, Josh. Design Program Diagram. Digital image.

(79) Social Network Analysis. Digital image. Wikipedia. org, n.d. Web. (80) 10 Companies in Control. Digital image. Businessinsider.com, n.d. Web. (81) Underwater Mortgage. Digital image. Investopedia. com, n.d. Web. (82) Size Does Matter. Digital image. Theglobeandmail. com, n.d. Web. (86) Warren, Josh. Map manipulated. Digital image.


Print Date December 2014

Profile for Designitjosh

Living small Josh Warren's Master Thesis Research  

Living small Josh Warren's Master Thesis Research  


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