The tiny house movement is gathering speed worldwide, and starting to build on the Playa too.
In 2011 the Tiny House Blog published a post featuring The Tiny Houses of Black Rock City and they followed this up again in 2014 with The Tiny Houses of Black Rock City: Caravansary. We’ve also featured the Golden Rebar award for Burnitecture in 2013 and 2014. Reno Artist Matt Schwartz is an enthusiast who hosts Tiny House Tuesdays at The Generator.
This three story off-grid micro-mansion from New Zealand is in another league.
Completely folded up, it would look very similar to a regular house truck were it not for the two turrets on the back that give a hit of what it becomes. Once parked, the house truck completely folds out and transforms into a fantasy castle.
When traveling, the entire house truck is a compact and tidy package. The roof retracts, the sides of the walls fold in, the turrets rotate inwards and it’s ready to go. When compacted for travel mode, the house easily meets all the minimum road clearances and is therefore very easy to travel with.
Once parked however, the castle truck comes to life, expanding to create a beautiful little home for its builders / owners Justin, Jola and their son Piko. The family have a very active lifestyle and the indoor outdoor flow of the house was a central theme in it’s design.
The castle-truck is completely off-the grid. It is solar powered, heats water through a mixture of solar panels on the roof, a wetback fire, and gas, and it captures rain water from the roof that is then stored in water tanks below the truck.
Inside the house is just as impressive with beautifully crafted living and working areas providing all the necessary comforts for this busy family. The kitchen has been created as the central feature of the home. All of the appliances are full-sized and the kitchen is a wonderful space for this family who love to cook.
Perhaps one of the most impressive things about this truck is the amount of storage space that is built into it. Huge wardrobe and cupboard spaces fill up all corners of the house and easily allow enough storage space for all the families’ belongings.
A magical sleeping loft raises up from above the truck and creates a wonderful place for the family to relax and sleep. The wallpaper was created by Jola who spent many hours cutting out music and lyrics from old song books. Each of the songs sing about beauty, love, and sleep and set the mood for this tranquil space.
Climb up even further and you will find yourself on top of the world. The castle truck boasts an impressive roof-top balcony, with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, a hammock, solar food dehydrator built into the roof, and even a roof-top bathtub!
To the rear of the truck you’ll find the bathroom turrets. The turret to the left is the composting toilet, and to the right is the shower turret which also is home to a small washing machine. In addition to being a very unique feature on the house, this design also has the practical benefit of separating the bathroom from the living space.
Justin and Jola have created a truly spectacular home. The engineering that has gone into the house is pure genius and it is both skilfully and beautifully executed. In my mind, this House Truck has single handedly raised the bar on what is possible in small space design.
The average house size has increased substantially in recent decades, and in response, there is a growing movement of people seeking alternatives to large, expensive, and energy-intensive housing. Australia currently holds the record for the country with the largest homes; the average size of a new Australian house increased from 162.2 square metres (1,742 sq feet) in 1984 to 227.6 square metres (2,444 sq feet) in 2003. The average new Australian home is now 10% bigger than even its U.S. equivalent.(1) Australia is closely followed by the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand for having homes either over or just under 200 metres squared (2,200 sq feet). In contrast, there are a number of countries with significantly smaller homes as the standard, such as: Germany (109 m2), Japan (95 m2), Sweden (83 m2), UK (76 m2), China (60 m2) and Hong Kong (45 m2).
While the trend over the last decade has been for larger homes, the tiny house movement is becoming popular among those wishing to be more sustainable and wanting to live simpler, less consumerist lifestyles. The small house movement is about reducing the overall size of dwellings to less than 1,000 square feet, or approximately 93 square metres. Following the Global Financial Crisis and Hurricane Katrina, both of which helped spark interest in the small home movement, there is a small but growing younger demographic moving towards living with less. While still a relatively minor sector, the tiny house market is set to see more interest over the coming decades. As housing affordability deteriorates in tandem with economic conditions, people will seek alternative ways of living. (2)
One such couple who have embraced the tiny house movement with their passion and skills are Jola and Justin from New Zealand. They have combined the functional and practical with quirky and fun, creating a three level road-worthy house truck replete with its own turrets! The 40 square meter “Castle” truck is an engineering masterpiece. It includes biofold doors, a loft, a rooftop bathtub, a large food dehydrator, and a full working kitchen complete with oven cook top and refrigerator. The bathroom facilities include a shower (within one of the turrets) and composting toilet (in the other turret) and a washing machine. Solar panels pull out to provide power for the family and recycled materials have been used throughout the vehicle. (3)