HouseTrike

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Bikecamper specially developed for homeless people, refugees and urban nomads

My name is Bas Sprakel, I am 45 years of age and live and work in Amsterdam and I am an artist.

I went to arts university in Utrecht and Melbourne but my biggest passion was traveling. So after arts university I traveled through many countries and continents in many different ways. I traveled by plane, by car, by coach, by truck, on foot, by bike and by boat. I traveled fast and comfortable, I hitchhiked on motorways and even waterways, walked barefooted for 300 miles slept in fancy hotels and under bridges.

I just loved being on the road. To me personal it is absolutely clear that we are nomads by nature. Destination is just a pointer to me, a means… being on the road is the real goal and passion to me. It inspires me and relaxes me at the same time. It is the perfect activity for reflection, for appreciating life, for seeing the world from a different pace and angle, for also seeing the human condition more clearly and understanding it better.

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I don’t travel as much as I used to do. Relationship and work prevent that a little but in my artwork there is still a lot of hints of being on the road. Last September for instance I wrote a a Zen-poem with chalk on the streets of Amsterdam, 5 kilometers in length, right through the old city, even crossing a river writing on the boat. So I still traveled, but this time really slow and on my my knees. Saw my own city from a unique angle and met a lot of people from a totally new perspective.

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Another big interest is architecture, both from the outside being surrounded by bricks, tiles, glass and concrete in the many forms and shapes and from within living in inspiring places. I always had very interesting studio’s and dwellings. I worked in a beautiful old factory with trees growing inside from the walls. I lived in castles, small damp labor houses and I built a boat (top) from waste-wood I found at construction sites.

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Those two major interests combined and finding inspiring ways to live easy led me to the idea of the Housetrike. To me it was important that is was multi-functional and practical for all most everybody who is living without a roof above their head. It didn’t need to be luxurious but it had to be a device solving their basic needs, both psychical and mentally. So it is a bed that can be locked from the inside so you sleep well and feel fresh the next day. The box has a lot of space to store a lot of stuff but is still small so it is stil light and easy to use. Also extended it is still small and therefore you can sleep anywhere you want, also in the city without being noticed that fast. It provides in a very sober way all the basic needs.

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The Housetrike is a practical solution and not so much a artistic or romantic interpretation. I lived rough and I know what is needed most and that is safety at night and being low key and above all being flexible. That provides so much peace and freedom. It is a first aid device but it can be used for a long time and in all climates. Moreover it is designed to be used in the city and at the same time you can leave the city and stay some time in nature, bringing food for weeks.

There is a lot that I can say about the Housetrike but what I like about it most is the utter simplicity. That took me quite some time. I tried a lot of other solutions It is multi-functional and at the same time still one simple clean idea and form and it really works

The next step is finding the funds to further develop the trike in polyester and than showing its usefulness by example and make a big exhibition tour trough Europe.

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Gregory’s Homeless Homes Project

Many readers of the Tiny House Blog might know Gregory Kloehn best from his Dumpster home that was featured on Inside Edition and the Rachel Ray Show. Gregory now has a new project in the works. The Homeless Homes Project, which features tiny structures built out of illegally dumped garbage and industrial waste are becoming more than an environmental stance or garbage art. These little homes are fast becoming a collaborative project between different groups who want to help shelter people who live on the streets.

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With names like R2D2, Romanian Farm House, Uni-bomber Shack and The Chuck Wagon, these structures are built from pallets, bed frames, futon frames, doors, plywood, OSB, paint, packing crates, car consoles, auto glass, refrigerator shelves and anything else Gregory can find in local dumping areas around his home in Oakland. He looks for anything that has real wood, tempered glass and sturdy frames, and only purchases nails, screws, glue, paint brushes and saw blades. When a home is completed, he pushes it into the street, take a few photos and then gives it away.

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“From that point on, I have no more say in it,” Gregory said. “The homes take on a life of their own. One was stolen, one was sold, one was firebombed, one is in a neighbor’s backyard with dogs living in it, the rest are still on the streets with people living in them.”

Gregory’s initial concept of these homes was not to house the homeless but came about because of some research he was conducting on homeless architecture and the various structures built by people who live on the street. He was inspired by their resourcefulness to take found objects and create homes and a livelihood from them.

“I was inspired to take these same materials back to my shop and put them together in a more permanent fashion,” Gregory said. “After about a week of collecting and building, I had a 21st century hunter/gather home, built from the discarded fruits of the urban jungle.”

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“This sat at my studio for a number of months, just collecting dust,” he continued. “One rainy night, Charlene, a homeless woman I’ve known for some 10 years, asked if I had a tarp for her.  I told her I didn’t have one and I went back inside. As I walked past the home, it hit me, I should give her this. I ran back out and told her to come back tomorrow and I would have a home for her.  She and her husband Oscar came back the next day. I handed them a set of keys and a bottle of champagne and watched them push it down the street. It felt so good that I started making another one that same day.”

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Gregory’s now working on the projects with several community groups and people who come to his shop to help. The plan is to move into a larger space that can accommodate workshops and larger builds. He said his Dumpster home project taught him many lessons that he’s applying to the Homeless Homes including sticking to his original vision.

“Regardless of what others say, or what you may even say to yourself about an idea, if you think it has merit and you want to do it, you should just do it,” he said. “Don’t let petty details derail your desires, you can deal with those later, what’s important is the essence of your ideas.”

Gregory’s interest in tiny homes came from building a lot of different homes and condos over the years and realizing that the smaller projects actually made him happier.

“There is a spontaneity and playfulness in making small homes that traditional houses do not offer,” Gregory said. “It reminds me of making forts as a kid, no city planners, no architects, no crews, no bank loans, just my ideas and my hands.”

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Photos by Gregory Kloehn

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Straatlokaal Dumpster Structures

Rikkert Paauw and Jet van Zwieten of FOUNDation Projects in Utrecht, Holland  have been making recent news for their ability to turn the ordinary dumpster into a unique space – with items actually recovered from dumpsters. Their current designs are being used as meeting spaces and bars, but with a little imagination could be turned into tiny houses.

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The artists put several of the large trash bins in the local neighborhood, and filled them up with trash and materials collected from around the town and donated by locals. They then used those materials to create the structures. The project, called Straatlokaal, has been used to promote responsible waste removal, recycling and object re-use. The building of each project took about a week and the Dumpsters were set up as alternative bars and places for creative entrepreneurs in the heart of Ultrecht’s Neude Center Square. Because the dumpsters have wheels, they can be moved around the city.

These Dutch “recyclitects” also build furniture, lamps and custom items from reclaimed materials like wood pallets and cast off metal. They have a few videos on Vimeo showing the Straatlokaal building and creative process.

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Photos by Stortplaats van Dromen

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]