Tiny home living has boomed in places like the U.S. and Australia over the past decade. Some choose to live this way to lower their environmental footprint. Others simply want a cheaper cost of living.
Regardless, tiny homes are here to stay. Living in tiny homes is not a new concept. Living in mobile trailers has been popular for decades. But the motivation and public connotation surrounding tiny homes differ significantly.
Downsizing personal items can lower an individual's environmental footprint and help shift demand toward less consumption. The more individuals who take this route, the higher the benefit.
Another advantage to tiny homes is the ease of installing more eco-friendly items, like solar panels, rainwater capture systems, and even composting toilets. For example, the cost to install solar panels on a 2,000 square-foot roof is drastically higher than the cost for a 500 square-foot roof.
Further, tiny homes can provide a testing point for new technologies due to their small size. Take the two designers in Slovenia who met at a crossroads between energy generation, water conservation, and tiny home living.
The tiny home, named the Rammed Earth House, takes inspiration from centuries-older rammed earth building style. The design involves compressing multiple layers of clay or sand to construct a building's facade, similar to the adobe style. This design motivated Architects Merve nur Başer, Aslı Erdem, and Fatma Zeyneb Önsiper, to combine the 9th century BCE idea with modern-day fixings.
The result was an impressively efficient home with a sloped, overhanging roof to allow for shade during peak sun times and windows strategically situated for ventilation and decreased heat loss.
What sets this design apart is its unique 'floating roof,' the reasoning for the entire build.
Generally, green roofs are comprised of "succulents, grasses, wildflowers, and herbs atop several structural layers—including a waterproof membrane and levels for drainage, insulation, and filtering." In the case of the Rammed Earth House, the roof will include grass that will stand up against the country's changing weather.
The roof will also contain photovoltaic (P.V.) solar panels strategically located for maximum output. Unlike other similar concepts, the P.V. panels will lay flat against the roof rather than on structural poles or at an angle, allowing all areas of the green roof to gain sun exposure.
Combining a green roof aiding local biodiversity, a rainwater filtration system, and solar panels creates a self-sufficient structure. Further, because of the size of the home, the energy generated from the P.V. panels is enough to power the build.
Constructed last August, the structure is currently situated in Dobrava, Slovenia.
Green roofs are not a new concept. But they, like tiny homes, have seen a rise in popularity over the past few decades.
One of the many benefits of green roofs is their immense potential to scale up. Examples are the Biesbosch Museum in the Netherlands, Städel Museum in Germany, Nanyang Technology University's School of Art, Design, and Media in Singapore, and many other unique and eco-friendly designs.
The Rammed Earth House stands as a brilliantly simple concept with immense potential to accommodate bigger structures. Though it wasn't designed to act as a testing prototype, its success is sure to spark future ideas. Especially when considering that green roofs have been shown to work on larger buildings. The design could benefit the earth with the added bonus of aesthetics.