a potential site

could this be the one? the owners are great and i'm not going to show the photo just yet, but there's something special around the corner too. stay tuned!


oh those shelves

i've been looking at shelving systems because I am designing one big storage wall/shelving system for a wall of the small house. in this shelf will be a mixture of closet space, open shelving, built-in desks, etc. here is some shelving that could help me figure out the one wall and other shelving throughout the house.

i've always wanted open shelving in the kitchen. i think i can make this with some welding help and it will really make me pare down on the cups and plates that i will have since they will all be on display. from blake

of course the 606 shelving system esigned by dieter rams in 1960 and made by Vitsœ  is what i want. it's the best at combining desks, shelving and drawers into one. it's my absolute fave.
this shelving by george nelson and herman miller (1959) would also take the cake.

then there is this ikea stolmen shelving system. not bad. 

with this hack  put in your own shelving instead of ikea's typical particleboard.

or go completely diy and make some of your own using common plumbing fixtures! from brick house and here and here.

here is also a great blog about everything bookshelves. 

feels like home

 this somewhere in the small house would really make it feel like home with a capital H!


a conscious act

I sat down with my studio advisor, Schnabel, and after checking out some diagrams I had done we started talking about the fact that my thesis project has evolved into a small house built by myself for myself, and that I should just go gung-ho and embrace that fact. Actually the origins for my thesis began years ago, before I ever went to architecture school. I lived in LA and was spending any free time I had learning google sketchup so I could design affordable houses out of, get this, shipping containers and quonset huts, which is not exactly my style now. At least several years of architecture school has taught me something. The point is that I was then and still am now, interested in designing a place I can call my own.

So why the hesitation with my thesis to call it what it is? Well, for starters there was such an academic, philosophical headiness that was instilled in school that you couldn't possibly say that you were simply going to design a small, affordable house for yourself. So what followed was a lot of research, followed by a lot of theories and statistics. Namely, I embarked on an academic investigation. Except not quite. My final thesis book from last semester became a zine (see it here), and my products were all films about my friends and I.

But I've since learned something in the process of doing research and making films and that's that it all leads inevitably back to myself. No matter how I dressed it up it all the projects I undertook led back to me, to my personal history. It's the direction I was heading in, plus it feels right when both my thesis advisor, Nora, and studio advisor told me to get down right personal and not hold back, that I should make it a conscious act to apply this thesis project to myself. So here I am proclaiming it to you all,

                             i am designing a small home for myself

Besides, an anecdotal/personal thesis does not need to lack in the heaviness, importance, rigour of academic theses. In the end, my intention wasn't ever really to write an academic thesis in the first place. It's not my style. I feel passionate about my thesis and a dry, academic thesis wouldn't have sufficed.

Jeff gave a great example about when chef's cook that they taste all along the way (always with the food analogies!). So from now on I'm tasting my way through because there's no better way to see this thesis through then to live it and apply these theories and studies to myself. What better way for me to relate to clients in the future then to put myself in their shoes and become my own client. The same tools I will learn to use on myself will apply to others in the future. Plus I no longer have to imagine what others would want, which is really an impossibility, but I can move on to what I want and why (based on a specific list of criteria I will post about later). What I'll share with you will for the most part no longer be perceived realities but will be understood as actualized realities. I wouldn't want it any other way.

forever yours, consciously,


dreaming of efficient kitchens

Ever since I built my 1:1 scale mini house prototype I've been searching for the ideal, efficient kitchen. The kitchen and the bathroom, at 4 by 6 feet, prove the most difficult challenges thus far. Here are some creative displays of small kitchens...

"A tiny kitchen by Mesh Architectures occupies a nook in a 300-square-foot art dealer's studio. The high-mounted oven includes a space saving feature where the bottom drops down for you to insert the food then retracts back up into the heat." It's practically closet-sized but super functional.

A compact kitchen lies under a stairwell in the Broome Street loft project by Loading Dock 5 Architecture in New York.

  I love this Studiomama Beach Chalet on the coast of England.

The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company is particularly popular among the small house movement. Here are two kitchens from them.

 An extra small kitchen in a revamped carriage house in Oakland by SF architect Christi Azevedo.

 A tiny cottage kitchen in Helsinki, photo by Andreas Meichsner for the New York Times.

"A minimal kitchen space made with reclaimed wood in a West Broadway loft by Ryall Porter Sheridan Architect."

 A kitchen in an East Village studio apartment of NYC by Jordan Parnass Digital 

"Brooklyn design firm Workstead integrated a tiny kitchen corner into living area of a small one-bedroom apartment; for more photos and information, go to Dwell."


artifact week 1

This week I built a 1:1 scale model and made a short film to go along with it. I first designed simple mounts with L brackets to hold up 4 by 8 cardboard panels and represented the actual 4 by 8 plywood panels I will use. They were easily moveable so I could explore and play with different configurations. I immediately changed the orientation so that the house is organized along the longer direction. This allows for a better delineation of spaces. In the end, I learned a lot by building it out at this scale as opposed to drawing it on paper or in some computer program. You could really imagine what living in 12 by 16 sq feet (192 sq ft) would feel like. Results... everyone in class was surprised how large it lives. When you have a fold down table and bed options, high ceiling heights, and every space is organized to be functional, you can truly maximize. I had two offers of classmates that wanted to move right in. Success!


depth & breadth

just another day reworking my thesis question with professor Jeff Schnabel... and it's not quite there yet.


a small house design brief

Design and build a small house for a couple with two cats. The build out will be DIY. Total budget: $30,000. Design time frame: January 2013 - March 2013. Construction time frame: March 2013 - May 2013 (?).

_Project Questions

How much space does a family of 4 (a couple and two cats) need to be comfortable, when the space is designed to maximize function and efficiency?
Is the home off-grid, mobile?
Can it be easily disassembled and reassembled elsewhere?
Is the home part of a greater community of small homes or does it work in conjunction with an      existing primary residence?
Is the home for solely for living or working or is it intended for both?
How do the systems and materials contribute to the home's efficiency and cost savings?

_Design Questions

Can the house use off-the-shelf components, and other components not readily used in residential design (i.e. commercial/industrial) to maintain a tight budget?
Can the house maximize light and openings while still maintaining an efficient envelope?
How can the house live large by blurring the boundaries between outside and inside?

_Concepts and Concerns

Where will the project be located? Will it be a temporary location?
Who will participate in the construction... friends and family (work-party) or design/build volunteers?
Is there an overall conceptual design to be realized?
Can the project achieve affordability, efficiency and style?
Will the project be permittable, if so at what cost? (Structures under 200 square feet do not need to be permitted according to Portland code. 

_Important features

Low impact
Bioclimatic, Environmental
High Quality
Low maintanance
Easily Moveable


I've been thinking more and more about how my design will be bioclimatic, i.e.  major rooms orientated to the south, operable windows located in strategic places to allow for natural cross ventilation, designing eaves to overhang the south facade windows to shade the summer sun but allow the winter sun to enter, a radiant floor system powered by a water heater using solar energy, employing thermal mass, balanced daylighting/indirect lighting. I think the shed design is still my favorite in section.

 a_ Sliding glass door
 b_ Clerestory windows
 c_ Storage bar with shelving behind sliding wood doors
 1_ Cross-ventilation
 2_ Balanced daylighting/indirect lighting

I've seen several designs that utilize clerestory windows and sliding doors for cross ventilation. The top of the kitchen storage can serve to diffuse light into the space. 


small houses pdx

This proposal seeks to provide the need for affordable, infill development to entry level homebuyers in the Portland area.  A traditional 50' x 100' block in the inner city becomes the location for a cluster of four compact single-family detached homes taking up the place of what would typically be a single-family residence. Small homes work together allowing for both private outdoor space and communal garden space. These micro-homes are low impact, are modular in construction to allow for easy assembly and disassembly, and use off-the-shelf components to maintain a tight budget. And although small, they have a remarkable amount of green features including a radiant Warmboard subfloor as well as greywater systems. With a footprint just shy of 200 sq ft these small homes also fly under the radar of permits and taxes. Although our small homes work best amongst a community of small houses, the small home can also be set up in conjunction with a primary household on an existing residential lot. In such a way your small home can satisfy the need for a backyard office, guesthouse, or rental that serves as a revenue generator, or alternatively as a studio for all types of creative work. You can choose your small home to be a number of sizes depending on need from XS- L (192 sq ft. to 896 sq ft.) The S at 320 square feet is enough for two people to live comfortably. The project comes with a solar version that does not require it to be plugged into a support house for power. Living small means more freedom. This project aims to prove that an "average" person can achieve home ownership on a small budget that is convenient, efficient, and stylish.

i like your style

interesting roof style
fernstone cabin via cabin porn

permit free

This is one of my favorite precedents of housing small enough to be built without permitting. In  Finland where this was built, it’s 96-128 sq. ft. So Robin designed a 96 sq. ft. living space with a 50 sq. ft. loft. It took a winter to design and no more than two weeks to build. The project was affordable as well using recycled materials and costing roughly $10,500 + the man hours. Love!

home is not


small floor plans: the house on the island of omo

by Ole Holst

behind closed doors

I'm liking more and more the idea of cordoning off service spaces such as kitchen, bath, bedrooms from the living space with sliding panels. Here are some sliding door divider ideas...

sliding wall separating serving spaces from servant space 
Danielson Cottage via Sustainable Homes 
by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

 translucent panels masking the clutter of a home office
via homedit 

 this 35 meter squared apartment in the heart of paris 
has some great sliding door ideas 
 a bedroom mirror which is actually a sliding door that opens to the ensuite bathroom and great perforated screen that separates the bedroom from the living room

hidden bedroom in a 1,200 square foot home
Design  Johnston Architects, Seattle via Sunset