Taliesin West Miner’s Shelter

Most architecture students don’t have to build their graduate project first in order to be able to live and study. However, at Taliesen West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter office and now an architectural school, students have to sleep outside in the desert in either a tent or in a shelter of their own design. Student David Frazee fashioned his desert shelter after an old miner’s shack — with a few more amenities.


David based his tiny shelter from some architectural ruins found on the school’s site. The concrete pad it sits on and the old chimney were used as a base for the tiny house. The shelter is held at two feet above the desert surface by two steel posts and one of the original concrete walls. The shelter is covered with rusted steel panels that are attached to metal channels , which hold the panels three inches off of the wall. The air space allows for hot air to vent away from the structure. The home is also paneled with redwood sheets and shaded by a tall Palo Verde tree. The steel and wood were selected for their aging qualities and durability in the desert sun.




The interior walls are a combination of plaster and birch plywood. The shelter’s operable windows allow gentle, desert breezes to flow over the bed. This student shelter does not contain a bathroom, shower or kitchen. Some existing blocks found on the site were used to level out the ground of the existing concrete pad, creating a wonderful sitting area for some nighttime viewing of the stars, the outdoor fireplace and probably more than a few textbooks.

David Frazee currently works with the Broken Arrow Workshop. A collective of Taliesin graduates who are dedicated to continue the legacy of Taliesin, by living through design.



Photos by Archinect

Indoor Cabins

My initial interest in tiny houses started with my desire to own a simple cabin in the mountains. Kirsten Dirksen from faircompanies.com recently released a new video on an updated concept of the modern day cabin. Indoor cabins!

Architect Terri Chiao knew she couldn’t afford the rent on a 750-square-foot Brooklyn loft without a roommate, but she didn’t want to divide it up with walls. Instead, she built a cabin and a treehouse inside the space to be used as private living quarters, leaving the remainder of the space free for dinners, parties, and art salons.

The 88-square-foot cabin — complete with under-the-floor storage space and a driftwood rod as a closet — was Chiao’s first home. Now three years later, she shares the 100-square-foot treehouse– lofted 6 feet off the ground to house her office below– with her partner and fellow artist Adam Frezza.

The two indoor shelters were built over the summer of 2009 with the help of friends and neighbors and just $2,000 (mostly spent on wood, tools, and hardware). Frezza and Chiao, who work together on art projects, now use the “cabin in a loft” to host “traveling artists.”

Both spaces have windows that let in sunlight and fresh air and are divided by an area with potted plants that the couple liken to a garden or urban lawn. “As a result, living in the space can feel like living outdoors, in a small community of two houses.”

indoor cabin


Swedish architect Torsten Ottesjö has recently create a free-standing and nearly free-form tiny house that can be moved anywhere to create the illusion that the house has sprouted out of the ground. The Hus-1 is a 270 square foot dwelling that can accommodate two people and contains a kitchen, sleeping quarters, dining table and windows that look like the surface of a leaf.

Ottesjö says that “block-shaped” buildings are not a suitable environment for humans and that integrating nature’s variety of form into a home will create a space that feels unconstructed. He also says that it is more common to hear a person express more love for a car than for a house since a car is more in scale with a human body. Homes should be sized smaller and adapted the same way to the movement  and mechanics of the body. Continue reading

Tiny Arizona Casita

When architect Lila Cohen and designer Teina Manu purchased a lot with a bungalow in Arizona, they decided not to live in the bungalow, but to make it their architectural office. Their home then became the 450 square foot shed at the back of the property. According to Lila and Teina, the shed was most likely built around 1916 and they wanted to retain the original style by re-purposing many of the items and materials found in the little structure.

Manu, who is a designer who creates custom furniture, wanted the home to be eco-friendly as well.

“Little and low-priced to me is green,” he said to Arizona Central.

The tiny house contains a small kitchen/dining area, a living room, one bedroom with a walk-in closet and a bathroom with a sunken tub. From the front door of the house, every room is visible except the bathroom. A full size washer and dryer are inside a closet and a tiny office area utilizes a vintage sewing-machine cabinet as a desk. In the kitchen the appliances are smaller than average and the eating area is a steel breakfast bar. The couple had a stove custom made and they use Japanese shoji screens to separate the bedroom and living/cooking area. In fact, every door in the house is a sliding screen door. Continue reading

1972 Tradewind Guest House Defies its Age

It’s hard to believe this aging 1972 Airstream’s pushing 40. A midlife makeover has blessed this 27-foot Tradewind with an age-defying renovation. Compared to its thousands of other shiny riveted siblings criss-crossing the country it’s just a youngster. Airstream, still an all-American company, turns 80 next year.

Matthew Hofmann, a 28-year-old Central California Coast-based architect, is the master craftsman who’s turning back the clock. This is his second high-design Airstream project to be released this year. Hofmann Architecture (www. HofArc.com) is a a full-service Santa Barbara residential design and small space renovation firm.

Hofmann’s version 2.0 is truly better in several significant ways, offering more open space, a larger bathroom, and an office desk. There’s a lot that hasn’t changed inside and that’s good because so much of what he designed into the previous 25-foot 1978 Tradewind was quite simply solid design. Continue reading