Most cities have an abundance of alleys and other abandoned areas, which could, in most cases be transformed into something more useful, such as a garden, or tiny apartments. French architect Stéphane Malka has made this theory into reality by building Bow House in Heerlen, Netherlands, which is a tiny urban home designed for anyone to use.


Bow House is a house, which is attached to an uninterrupted brick wall of an old building. The architect used a simple and flexible scaffolding system as the building skeleton, while the rest of the house is made primarily out of recycled windows and doors. The entire home is well ventilated and lets in plenty of light, while also offering great shelter.

The idea behind Bow House is to show just how easily disused urban space could be transformed to create additional dwellings. It also brings forth the idea of offering free housing in public spaces in an age where everything is defined by capital and profit. Bow House is intended to be used by whoever needs shelter, without profiting anyone in the monetary sense.

Bow House is basically just an extension of an existing public space. In other words, it is open and welcoming to anyone who wishes to use it. As such it goes against the perception of housing, as we mostly understand it today. However, this being so, some sort of renting out system would still need to be established before the idea of this free-for-all shelter could actually become a reality and offer a temporary living space for urban nomads.

Malka calls Bow House a graffitecture project and says it was inspired by today’s hip hop culture in the sense of the ability to turn neglected parts of any city into something useful. Another inspiration was also the so called “bothy,” a shelter once common in England, which was basically a simple house on a larger estate, meant to be used by anyone for free, and usually used by travellers or workers on the estate.