Designers Mateusz Mastalski and Ole Robin Storjohann from Denmark have come up with an innovative way to produce affordable housing for people living in cities. Rents in most major cities have gone through the roof in recent years, and more and more often the solution is micro housing, as well as more lenient zoning laws. But in their micro-apartment plans, the two Danish designers have gone a step further and eliminated the need for even needing vacant land for the new houses to be built on. Their innovative infill concepts are designed so that the micro-houses they propose can fit in the residual spaces between existing buildings, while still letting in plenty of natural light and being quite spacious.
Alek Lisefski, a 29-year old freelancer designed and built his own tiny home in 2012, after deciding that paying a high rent was just not a viable option. The tiny home he built rests on an 8-by-20 flatbed trailer and can be towed around the country as necessary, or desired. He designed the house using the 3-D modeling program SketchUp, some books on the subject, and a number of tutorials off the internet. It took Lisefski 7 months to design and build the home, and it is currently located in Sebastopol, California. He lives there with his girlfriend, Anjali Krystofiak, and their dog.
The Santa Monica-based award-winning green design studio Minarc partnered up with Habitat for Humanity, and a local non-profit firm Restore Neighborhoods LA to design and build affordable, net-zero energy prefabricated homes in the low-income areas of South Los Angeles. Together they built 3 homes, which were all built on vacant lots in the poorest neighborhood of South Los Angeles. The houses all feature Minarc’s innovative, interlocking panel system, which is called mnmMOD. The homes are also equipped with roof top mounted solar panels.
Karl Wanaselja and his business partner and wife Cate Leger from Berkley, California opted to build a home office using a retired shipping container. They chose to do so primarily because they live in an earthquake prone area, which makes shipping containers the perfect choice as building blocks. They purchased the 40 foot container, which was once a refrigerated unit, for just $1800 from the Port of Oakland.
Frederick Corson’s 5000 square foot home in Northern California is one of the largest in the area, yet its cooling and heating costs are very low. Instead of using traditional sources of heating and cooling, Carson fitted the house with a ground-source heat pump known as a geothermal heat pump. Such a heat source is environmentally friendly and sustainable, while it also keeps the costs of heating and cooling the house minimal.
Lulu, a single mom from Southern California, recently went back to school, which prevented her from working full time to pay a market rent. Due to this she was forced to move out of her conventional home, so instead she decided to build for herself and her small daughter a home from a shipping container. She built the home herself with no prior construction experience.
Lulu was given the shipping container for free, and it took her about a month to cut out the windows and doors using a saw. She then installed the needed insulation to which she added bubble wrap to prevent condensation buildup. For the floor and ceiling, she opted for Styrofoam insulation. She also performed some basic plumbing to get running water in the kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen is equipped with a propane camp stove and a portable, propane-powered on-demand water heater.