Thursday, November 29, 2012

And Even More on Tiny Living

Room at Yeni Hostel, Istanbul

Home, squeezed home: Living in a 200-square-foot space was in yesterday's Washington Post. It also points readers to a good article here: White Paper: The Small Spaces Trend

I've visited this topic several times because it calls to me: 


This year, I happen to be living in a 832-foot apartment in Alamogordo. The space is so luxurious, I can't tell you.
But just as satisfying have been much smaller spaces. When I was in Addis, I met an Italian professor, teaching in Addis, who lived in the Taitu Hotel in a spacious room with a balcony. There was a sink in the room, but he had to go out and down the hall for a toilet or shower. I loved that room - just a huge square space with tall windows (if I recall correctly) and lots of light. And the balcony! Wood-plank floor, waist-high wall, overlooking the hotel/hostel's grassy cafe.

My rooms in Dubai and Istanbul - also livable for a long period, albeit tiny.

The trick for making tiny spaces truly livable seems to me to be the accessibility to usable outdoor space, whether that's, literally, a space just outside one's door where one can relax in some comfort (i.e., not in a climate that is too cold for much of the year), or figuratively, with an affordable cafe society or nearby public parks and the like. And certainly there needs to be easy access to food supplies, to eliminate the need for storage space to keep the food. (Or live in a location where it's more economical to order out than to make one's own meals.) 

Some issues I don't see talked about in re: the urban, tiny-living trend: 

People still drink water and generate human waste, regardless of the size of their residences. If tiny urban living really takes off, resulting in a significant increase in the population per foot of a city, what is the net ecological and economic impact? 

Should every metropolitan area encourage tiny housing, if the likely net outcome is increased population, such as cities that already consume too much water for their indigenous climate or rely too heavily on climate-control energy sources? Desert cities such as Phoenix, Tucson, or Las Vegas, for example.   

With a greater concentration of tiny houses in urban environments, shouldn't there be a conversation about built-in green spaces for each tiny-house enclave? Otherwise, when it comes to ecological impacts or quality-of-life points, how would a cluster of tiny houses without green space be much different than slapping up an apartment building? Just a false entitlement to smugness about one's carbon footprint, I think. 

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