Two weeks ago, I wrote about the LumenHaus, a small, energy-efficient tiny house prototype by Virginia Tech. With its very high-tech features, it’s a neat example, but its $450-650,000 price tag puts it out of the reach of most of us.
But another university group has been focusing on designing small houses with a much, much lower price tag. That’s the Rural Studio at Auburn University.
The Rural Studio is a long-running design-build program that does most of its work in rural Hale County, Alabama. The Rural Studio’s 20K House project has produced a series of houses, twelve so far, so named because they’re designed to be built for $20,000. While some have met this budget and others haven’t, they are all interesting examples of simple but well-designed dwellings.
Take, for example, the Roundwood House. Its designers wanted to explore building applications for “thinnings”, small-diameter timbers that are removed to encourage forest health but are too small to be milled into conventional lumber.
Turner’s House, the eleventh and most recent 20K House, was completed in the fall of 2012. It’s not a “tiny house”, but neither is it large: Like Goldilocks and the three bears, looking at the pictures, I can’t help but feel like it’s “Juuust right.”
A quote from the Rural Studio summarizes their mission — and its similarity the tiny house movement:
Nearly 30% of individuals in Hale County live in poverty. Due to the lack of conventional credit for people with this level of income, and insufficient knowledge about alternative sources of funding, trailers offer the only chance for home ownership. Unlike a house, which is an asset for its owner, trailers deteriorate very quickly and depreciate in value over time. The $20k house project intends to produce a model home that could be reproduced on a large scale, and thereby become a viable alternative to the trailer in this area. The challenge is to build a house for $20,000, ten to twelve thousand of which will go towards materials and the remainder on contracted labor. (Source: The Rural Studio blog).
The strength of the Rural Studio, in my view, is the great quality of design they achieve on very limited budgets. That is truly “Design Within Reach”.
The Rural Studio is a great organization and you can learn more about them on the web; there’s also a great book, Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency, as well as a documentary, Citizen Architect, which are both worth checking out.
Next week we’ll get a global perspective and see some tiny house prototypes being built around the world.
Latest posts by Vincent Baudoin (see all)
- Small and Affordable: The 20K House Project - April 1, 2013
- Solar-Powered Tiny House Prototype: the LumenHaus - March 16, 2013
- Tiny House Communities: Urban, Suburban, and Rural - March 7, 2013