Living Small in the PNW: Part 1

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This past Monday I had the opportunity to lecture at the Tulane School of Architecture about the research trip I took in May. Many thanks to Professor Errol Barron for the kind introduction, and to the School of Architecture and specifically the John William Lawrence Travel Research Fellowship for making the trip possible in the first place.

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Not quite two years ago, around December 2012, I bought an 18’-long flatbed utility trailer and decided to build a tiny house on wheels. Working in a driveway in Virginia, I framed the floor using pressure-treated 2×6 joists salvaged from the wooden trailer deck, and insulated it using 1″ and 2″ rigid foam boards donated by a local construction company.

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An early version of the design is shown above, with about 140 square feet of living space on the lower level plus an additional sleeping loft on either end. Two fold-out decks, one on the side and one on the rear, create outdoor sitting space. A niche near the tow hook would accommodate equipment such as the water heater.

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As of today, the tiny house is providing a nice flat surface for boxwood plants being used in plant pathology research…

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So the tiny house on wheels has gone on hold. First the money ran short, and then I spent the spring building small houses in Haiti (none of them on wheels, though).

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In the fall of last year, I started school at Tulane, and I decided to apply for a travel fellowship to take a second look at this idea of tiny living. I visited three states, talked to lots of people, and visited quite a few projects. To keep it simple, for my presentation I focused on 6 people, 9 buildings, and 12 observations.

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The three states were Washington, Oregon, and California, for a trip of almost 1,000 miles, over about three weeks. Over the next three posts, I’ll show some pictures from the trip and talk about the people, buildings, and observations along the way.

Continue reading with Part 2: Washington >>


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