It all started with Brian Levy wanting to grow fresh vegetables. When the Washington, DC resident lost his community garden to a new development, he decided to purchase an ally lot in the Stronghold neighborhood of DC next to the Glennwood Cemetery. Once the veggies were established, other sustainable possibilities came to light and the Micro Showcase was born.
The Minim has a streamlined kitchen and lots of windows.
Brian worked with several architects to design and build the 210 square foot Minim Home, which has not only won an AIA Washintonian Award, but almost 60 sets of plans for the stylish, little home have been sold around the world. Currently the Showcase also displays a 140 square foot tiny house with loft being built by students from the Academy of Construction and Design, and a 288 square foot Studio Shed that is used for day use operations. A massage therapist regularly uses it rent free for client sessions.
The Minim’s bed rolls out from under the desk area.
“The Micro Showcase is a strategic approach to livable, beautiful designs for all types of people —for a hipster from Utah to a Wall Street banker,” Brian says.
The Studio Shed is utilized by a massage therapist.
The District of Columbia’s zoning regulations have never allowed for tiny trailers or ADU buildings in the city’s 700 ally lots and the challenges of tiny houses in the city were apparent right away. Brian has been working for over seven years with the DC Office of Planning to revise the current zoning regulations and allow residents to build detached ADUs in the majority of residential zones. Unfortunately, the new updates do not have accommodations for full time living in tiny houses on wheels since they are considered RVs.
The Micro Showcase also features a THOW built by high school students.
Brian uses the light-filled Minim as an office and a central location to a thriving vegetable and fruit garden complete with a rainwater tank that supplies his water, a bee hive, and an alfresco lounge with grill. The Minim is also an experiment in micro living without a loft. The bed slides out from underneath a platform that holds a desk and a closet, the dining table can be positioned into various holes in the floor for dining or working, and the kitchen has a large window and Mason jar storage instead of cabinets. The Studio Shed has a composting toilet and will soon be outfitted with a mobile kitchen unit and moveable furniture.
The nearby Boombox is a music studio and stage build from shipping containers.
Just around the corner from the Showcase, Brian’s friend (a jazz musician) has purchased his own row house and is turning his side yard into a musical space name the Boombox. The music studio and a coveted garage are located inside two 24 foot shipping containers. The wall of one side opens up (with the help of skateboard wheels) to reveal an impromptu music stage.
With the new zoning laws going into effect next spring, Brian would like to see more opportunities for small, multi-use lots like this where people can work together in a shared space. In fact, once the DC Students TIny House is moved out of the Showcase he is looking for a small business owner to take its place. If you are a stylist, designer, barber, massage therapist or other small business owner in the DC area, come park your tiny office in the middle of a vegetable garden.
The Micro Showcase has public tours every month or so. The final tour of 2015 will be December 5, 2015. The Micro Showcase is also available for special events and can accommodate up to 50 guests.
The Showcase also features a garden available for special events.
Photos by Christina Nellemann and Micro Showcase