Transforming Castle Truck Becomes 3-Story Tiny House

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.

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Tiny House at Burning Man 2014. Image: Tiny House Blog

a tiny house and a hexyurt together

a tiny house and a hexyurt together

This three story off-grid micro-mansion from New Zealand is in another league.

From Living Big In A Tiny House:

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.

Castle Truck Folded For Travel

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. 

The Castle Truck Folds Out Into An Impressive Structure

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.

Castle Truck Extending Roof & Solar Panels

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.

Castle Truck Kitchen

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.

Castle Truck Interior

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.

Castle Truck Sleeping Loft

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.

Castle Truck Roof Balcony

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! This is pretty much the pinnacle of motorhomes for anyone looking for motorhome, campervan, 4WD and RV rentals.

Castle Truck Bathroom Turrets

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.

Castle Truck Fold Out Kitchen

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.

From collective-evolution:

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)

Downsize Your RV, Upsize Your Cool Factor

gidget beach

This is how we do it Down Under

Thanks to Burner SnowAngel for sending this in. Playa ready?

It may look small, but the Queen size bed fits a 6’6 person. The front slides out, the grill slides out, the fridge slides out, it even has solar panels.

Find out more at thegidget.com.au. If anyone brings one of these to a Burn please send us a photo.

Gidget-Teardrop-Trailergidget grill gidget out gidget closed

Going to Burning Man Without an RV

tonyedwardswidget2Comedian, Mac Genius and double-digit Burner Tony Edwards has put together a very useful blog post on alternatives to RV’s for Burning Man.

Reblogged from ohtony.com:

Going to Burning Man is a pain in the ass. Two of the biggest challenges are transportation and shelter. This is why the Recreational Vehicle is the king of Burning Man shelter, it’s the easiest way to go. Well, actually, the absolute easiest way to go to Burning Man is to have someone drive an RV to the playa for you, while you fly into BRC airport. Unless you actually own an RV, it’s also the most expensive, which is why it’s called “Rockstarring”.

 

To rent an RV, you can figure on costs starting at about $3000 and going up from there. That’s not including fuel and cleaning fees. Not everyone can afford that, but, there are other, less expensive ways to bring shelter with you to Burning Man. However, there are some very important requirements to meet for the perfect Burning Man shelter.

 

1. It must be able to withstand gale-force winds.

 

2. It should be able to be erected fairly easily and quickly by a small number of people. If you arrive after driving 10 hours straight (not recommended, BTW), you are going to want to get your shelter ready fast so that you can take a nap. Also, you don’t want to be struggling with it while the wind is blowing hard. The faster it goes up, the sooner you can hunker down if need be.

 

tent-dust3. It should be dust-resistant. The dust at Burning Man is called playa dust. It has the texture of coarse talcum powder. It is also extremely corrosive and alkaline. It gets everywhere. You do not want to come in from the playa, looking forward to a little sleep and find your bed and everything in your tent covered with a thick layer of dust.

 

4. Roomier is better. Also, being able to stand up straight is a big plus. Imagine trying to get dressed while bent over.

 

5. You will need shade. Burning Man is a strenuous event. You are going to want to be able to get lots of rest when you need it. Let’s say you go out for the evening and return to your camp just before sunrise, which is also the coldest time of day on the playa. You crawl into bed in your tent at 6am. But, once the sun comes up, the temperature rises very quickly. Within a couple of hours, your tent goes from being a freezer to an oven…unless it’s under shade.

 

Here are some possibilities.

 

Tents

 

 

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The tent is the shelter of choice for the 99% at Burning Man. It’s the cheapest, in terms of cost and transportation. But, you have to choose your tent wisely and take precautions. We have done tents at Burning Man several times. My first year, I brought a small, two-person tent. Not good. See requirements 3, 4 and 5. I ended up sleeping in my car (more on that later…).

 

When considering a tent, try to find one with no mesh panels. In 2012, I found the tent pictured above for an excellent price. It had a couple of mesh panel in the roof, so I sealed them with Gorilla tape and extra nylon fabric. That, combined with the rain fly, partial cover and protection from an adjacent RV made for a comfortable one-person Playa home..

 

When choosing a tent, you want to give yourself some headroom and floor space in the tent.

 

I STRONGLY suggest against using any kind of tent without shade.

 

rebarDo not use the tent stakes that came with your tent. The wind will pull them out and send your tent flying. Get extra long, heavy duty metal ones. The best solution is to use reinforcing bar or rebar, for short. If you can find some with the bend at the top, or have some bent like a candy cane, that’s even better. Note: You will probably need to bring/borrow a sledge hammer to drive the rebar into the playa, and vise grips to pull them out. And something to put over tops so that people don’t trip on them and gouge there ankle, like tennis balls with slits cut in them. Oh yeah, bring work gloves, too. See what I mean? Pain in the ass.

 

One year, we struck upon what ended up being a great tent setup. We will probably use this solution this year.

 

First, the tent:

Big Ass Tent

 

This Trek tent has a foot print of 10’ X 20’, which is why we lovingly call it the “Big Ass Tent”. You can find it online selling anywhere from $250 to $300. Here’s why this tent rocks:

 

1. Every window and door have both mesh closing and solid closings. That means, when it’s all zipped up, there is no way for dust to get in! But, if the weather is nice, you can open them up and get a breeze.

 

2. I can walk in standing straight up! (I’m 5’10”). And, I can remain standing in about 80% of the tent.

 

3. It has metal poles that won’t break in a high wind and lot’s of stake-down loops.

 

4. It has a full, reinforced floor with a threshold at the door.

 

5. It has 3 three rooms. There are room divider fabrics built in. Use one room for the bed, the middle room as a living area and the third room for storage.

 

6. Going to another multi-day festival or just camping? You are all set!

 

The only part missing is the shade, which is why we also borrowed a legendary Burning Man shelter, the Costco car canopy:

 

canopy

 

This car tent’s dimensions are…10’ X 20’! Put this tent up, then put the canopy over it. You get extra dust protection and plenty of shade. Air circulates between the canopy and the tent, so you can basically sleep in the middle of the day.

 

DSC_0084

 

Yeah, I know, I look cranky. But look how cute Laura is in the mirror. You can look inside and see how dark it is in the middle of the day.

 

Anyway, you could use a smaller tent and/or different shade solution. But, trust me, if you are doing a tent, you need shade.

 

 

Vehicles

 

 

me@bm2002

 

 

I don’t suggest living out of your vehicle unless it was made for camping. This is a picture of me the first year at Burning Man, 2002. I was going to sleep in the tent on the right, but after the first morning, I switched to the car. Someone gave me reflective material to put over the windows to help with the sun. I slept in the car and put my stuff in the tent.

 

Let’s say that you take something bigger that a car, like a van. A van is great because it takes care of shelter and transportation, you can carry all of your stuff in it. But, you can basically only sleep in it. You are constantly getting in and out of the van, so it’s going to get a lot of playa dust in it. If you rented the van, the rental company is probably going to ream you for extra cleaning costs, even if you try to clean it yourself first.

 

You know how you aren’t supposed to leave dogs in a car with the windows closed on a sunny day. If you sleep in your vehicle, you are that dog, unless you have shade. If you added a Costco canopy to the mix, that would help with shade, but I still don’t think camping like that is ideal.

 

Campers and Trailers

 

burningmanrv-723321

 

Campers and trailers make for great Burning Man shelter because that’s what they were designed for. If you don’t own one, see if some kind friend or family member will letyou borrow their’s for the week (Just be prepared to spend a couple of additional days cleaning it up when you get home.)

 

If you are thinking about using a pop-up camper, make sure that it can be sealed off from the dust. They have a tendency to use a lot of mesh windows.

 

The main down side to campers and trailers is getting them to the playa. You will be using much more fuel towing the camper, the  trip will take longer and you will be stressing the towing vehicle much more. But, if that’s not a problem, then rock on!

 

Yurts

 

Hexayurt_at_BurningMan_cropped_2010

 

A yurt is kind of like a tent, but with solid sides. Most yurts you see at Burning Man are hexayurts; small six-sided shelters built with rigid insulation. The Hexayurt can be made from about $300 of materials from Home Depot, plus about $100-150 of mail-ordered tape. Depending on the construction technique, it takes about 8 hours to prepare at home and 0.5-4 hours of assembly on the playa. I’ve never camped in a hexayurt, but I have seen them and helped assemble one at Burning Man.

 

The upside of a yurt is that they are COOL, as in keeps the cool air inside. By just spraying mist in the air, you can drop the temperature down 10 degrees. They also require no shade. And they look cool, in geeky kind of way.

 

Two challenges to using a hexayurt are the construction and assembly. Unless I had someone helping me who had put one together before, I’m pretty sure that I would be frustrated trying to put one together at Burning Man. Because of the size of the pieces, they need to be transported in a larger vehicle. Lastly, unless you build a tall (and way more susceptible to wind) hexayurt, you will have to bend over every time you go in or out. And, once you are in, you will only be able to stand up in a circular area in the middle off the hexayurt.

 

So, if you are handy, have a truck available for transport and want to make sure you are a cool as a cucumber, try a hexayurt. Here’s link to get you started. Appropedia.org

 

 

U-Haul

 

uhaultrailer

 

Last year, Laura and I decided to go to Burning Man three days before we left! We drove up with our friend Rich, who was towing a 6 X 12 U-Haul trailer for the camp. We had brought with us a tent that I had used the year before (the one with the lights pictured above) at Burning Man. It wasn’t bad, but I was concerned about the amount of space for two people. After we arrived and unpacked the camp, we looked inside the trailer and thought to ourselves, “Hmm, that’s a lot of room in there…”

 

Since the trailer wasn’t set to be used that week, we moved in and used the tent as extra storage. It actually worked quite well.  After figuring out how to insulate ourselves from the cold floor at night, we found that we could sleep in as late as we wanted. We could close the doors almost completely when the dust blew. It was oddly romantic.

 

 

 

IMG_1992

 

I know a couple of people who flew in to San Francisco from London, rented a U-Haul truck, went to thrift stores and got a cheap sofa, bed and other stuff. They then drove to the playa and had their own hotel room on wheels in the back of the truck!

 

Of course, if you don’t want to rent a U-Haul to just sleep in it, consider offering to take other people’s stuff for a fee, or the stuff for your camp for reimbursement. Another option.

 

Sani-Hut

 

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If you have ever visited a construction site, you’ve probably seen one of these portable offices. Sani-Hut is a company which supplies all sorts of temporary buildings for construction and events. They also contract a lot of work with Burning Man. But here’s the deal; You can call them up and reserve an office like the one above. They will then deliver it to you on the playa! For cheaper than an RV! Oh, did I mention the AIR CONDITIONING?

I’ve had friends do the U-Haul truck thing at Burning Man before. It’s good, up until about 10am. After that it’s almost unbearably hot. You could get around this by building some sort of shade structure over the truck.

Personally, after years of renting RV’s I bought an old one on eBay for a great price. It’s survived 3 burns and 1 JuPlaya so far, about 30 days in total on the Playa. I’m not sure how many it has left in it, but it’s been to other great parties too, and on lots of fun road trips. It more than paid for itself compared to rental options, and the plus is I can leave it stocked with all the glowsticks, feathers, glitter, booze, and whatever else we didn’t consume at the festival. Of course, if you believe the burnier-than-thous, you’re supposed to just make your own yurt, sleep in that, and spend the RV money on Gifting to randoms. Make a statue and burn it, why have a nice RV with air conditioning and a bathroom that you get a lot of use out of? Goddamn rich people, screwing up our burn…