Finding affordable dwellings in large urban areas has become quite difficult in recent years. Los Angeles is also facing this problem and to combat it, the mayor wants to build 100,000 new affordable housing units by 2021. A team of UCLA students and faculty from the college’s architecture and urban design group cityLAB, have recently unveiled a prototype of an affordable dwelling, called the BI(h)OME, that could solve the housing shortage.


The BI(h)OME can be described as an “accessory dwelling” that measures 350 square feet. It is lightweight and inexpensive to construct and features a steel pipe frame, which can be placed on a simple, gabion foundation made out of wire-caged rock. This small home could easily be constructed in the yards of the 500,000 single family homes in LA, where it could be used to house relatives or rented out. If not used to house people, this dwelling can also provide shelter for various species of birds, butterflies and bats.


The home features wooden framed walls along with a double-layered skin, which is made of ETFE, namely a durable, recyclable plastic. Cut paper cylinders are then inserted between the layers of plastic. In addition to that, some of the wooden walls can also be turned into vertical gardens.



The designers further claim, that photovoltaics could be printed on the outside layer of the home to provide the necessary power. The home would also be fitted with LED lighting throughout. Each BI(h)OME would feature a full kitchen, a foldout bed, a bathroom with a composting toilet, and a greywater-recycling system. The necessary water could be supplied via a garden hose.

While this tiny home certainly is very sustainable and does make full use of emerging technologies, it remains to be seen if it is in fact suitable for long term human inhabitation. Lack of insulation would make it quite hot, or cold, for one thing.