Saturday, March 19, 2011

Alternative Housing: Lighthearted Links

The sun has set on McMansions according to real estate writer Steve Bergman in an article for NOLA.com. The decline of the appeal of gigantic homes began in 2006, but the collapse of the real estate market over the past five years has resulted in a change in housing priorities:

"The median-sized home being built today is smaller," reported Paul Bishop, vice president of research for the National Association of Realtors. "And our survey of homebuyers indicates that as well."
Problems getting financing and expenses involved with the upkeep of larger houses have contributed to their lessening appeal, but I'd like to think that an awareness of how much space we really need has fueled the increasing interest in smaller homes.

"Homeowners feel the days of appreciation are not coming back so they are not going to be purchasing homes just for the sake of investing," said Kermit Baker, chief economist with the American Institute of Architects and a senior research fellow at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. "Homebuyers are purchasing because of how they intend to use the home, on the basis of what they need. They are treating their home more like typical consumer goods rather than investment goods."
Although I've devoted many posts to housing and I think it's a topic worthy of serious consideration, sometimes it's fun to take a break and think of shelter in a completely different way. 

Eve Politanoff at What's up! trouvaillesdujour has three posts about treehouses along with an assortment of great pictures on her blog, including the "castle" above from Portland, Oregon, and an airplane hotel suite at the Costa Verde resort in Costa Rica.

Dai Haifei, a young Chinese architect, recently graduated and unable to afford the high cost of housing in Beijing, built a mobile egg-shaped, solar-powered house that he lived in for two months on the sidewalk near his employer.

Joyce Wadler at the NY Times wrote about Derek Diedricksen, who makes micro-shelters out of salvaged junk. His RelaxShacks blog provides more information about other building projects, his book, YouTube series and Tiny Shelter Building Workshop set for this summer.

Fast Company offers a post about a 90-square-foot minimalist loft with walls covered in . . . 25,000 ping pong balls! The space serves as a part-time bedroom for Daniel Arnshem, partner in the firm, Snarkitecture, where the loft is located.

And, finally, Strictly Paper offers an apartment made entirely out of cartons, white paint and black marker! It's a great artistic statement and timely social commentary.

Please click on the links to see many wonderful photos and learn more details about all of these clever "alternatives!"

2 comments:

Bryce said...

Some of the homes in the photos for this post look absolutely charming! But, PLEASE! A 24-square-foot house? Does the owner sleep STANDING UP?? And a home constructed from white-painted cardboard and black marker would cause me to put a gun in my mouth.

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Hi, Bryce --

The Gypsy Junker certainly is extreme, but maybe not quite as odd as it first seems. Here's more: "With a roof height that ranges inside from 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 10 inches, this is one [structure] that Mr. Diedricksen, who is 6-foot-4, can almost stand upright in, at least in some places. Like many a fancy camper, it also has a bump-out — an 8-foot sleeping pallet — although this bump-out is permanent. Guests can sleep on the four-by-six-foot floor, although if they are tall, they would have to sleep diagonally. . .

"What did Mr. Diedricksen envision the Gypsy Junker as being?

"'Originally, it was going to be a place to brainstorm for my book and my designs,' he says. 'There’s no better place than inside someplace that is unconventional and bizarre. It helps you think outside the box instead of sitting in some white-walled room. And my son’s first camp-out was here.'"

Mr. Diedrickson has some pretty interesting ideas about more liveable, "real" small houses as well as some clever solutions for housing for the homeless.

And, don't worry, the cardboard apartment was never envisioned as an actual living space; it's strictly art!

Glad you found the post interesting and thanks for your comment!