Small Scale Designs Make Big Impact in Sustainable Architecture

October 13, 2011

Thirty years ago, couples looked to build sprawling homes. The American dream, a mansion on mass amounts of land was ideal. Now this concept is being re-evaluated and “go big or go home” no longer applies to architecture. Tiny homes that are easily constructed and are very sustainable are now in demand. These small dwellings are as beautiful as the giant structures of past generations just measured on a different scale.

A home that has been featured in Green Building Elements before but that deserves a second glance is the ten foot by ten foot copper, fire and weather proof, prefabricated home by Casey Brown Architecture in Australia. It is called the Mudgee Permanent Camping House and is a retreat for one to two people. It was built by Jeffery Broadfield in Sydney and then transported to the rural site and erected in 2007.

Another home that defies the “bigger is better” mentality is found in Michigan City, Indiana. It is the small house designed by John De Salvo in 2008 for the Church-Jett couple. This home, like Mudgee, is a realization of a dream for a couple looking to get away for a relaxing weekend.

This house is a vertical structure of three levels. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a roof deck, hot tub, a two-story living room and a fireplace. With the luxury list not even completed, it is hard to believe that this house only encompasses 1200 square feet.

The house was featured in the June 2011 issue of Dwell Magazine and won the AIA Small Project Award for 2011.

Besides size, the Church-Jett residence is remarkable in its sustainable attributes which display huge eco-friendly design concepts. These sustainable attributes include hopper windows for natural ventilation, a structure entirely of bamboo and steel and a location that is only a short walk to the lake and nature.

Every decision that goes into the design and execution of any kind of building, especially a family’s home is crucial. For the users of such homes to demand and for the builders to execute small, elegant, sustainable living arrangements is truly a re-invention of the wheel that has been necessary for years. This is a choice that smart, eco-aware people are making. It is not only their decision of shrinking their footprint, but shrinking their lifestyles as well while maintaining comfort levels that have come to be appreciated and even demanded in modern times.

Resources: Mudgee House, Casey Brown, Trendir and John DeSalvo Design


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Jennifer Shockley

Jennifer is originally from Colorado and has recently moved back from Michigan. She is finishing up her Master’s degree in Architecture. She is currently focusing on urban planning and sustainable design and hopes to gain employment at a design firm specializing in these areas. Jennifer also has writing experience serving as an editor for her school newspaper and college magazine. Jennifer has two cats named Prada and Dior-aptly named after her shoe obsession. You can follow Jennifer on twitter @jenshock81.
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