The Tiny Houses of Black Rock City: Cargo Cult

by Christina Nellemann on September 2nd, 2013. 14 Comments

Another Burning Man event has come to a close and Black Rock City this year was jam packed full of interesting camps and structures. The city is the area where the nearly 60,000 people who come to the event live. Their “homes” are a selection of unique structures, trailers, buildings, tents, yurts and other forms of shelter that keep out the harsh sun, sometimes heavy winds and the dust that permeates the air.

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Last year, we camped by Tin Man and his fantastic metal pods. This year, we camped by him again and noticed the pods have been improved and they multiplied. Tin Man, a metal worker from Sacramento has been featured in Popular Science magazine with his walking pod, and his pod cabin is his home on the Playa. The bottom pod is a kitchen, the middle pod is a shower area and the top pod with the view is his bedroom. He even had a few guests staying in his camp and created a self-contained micro pod and some guest pods made of curtains.

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There were a lot of shipping container shelters out on the playa this year including this one with a constructed inner building that is air conditioned and accessed by a real door. This container was used by one of the Black Rock Rangers. Rangers are the city’s peacekeeping and helpful guides. They help people who are lost, work perimeters during various burns and stay in the city sometimes for several weeks.

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There were some very interesting domes this year including this structure that looked like an igloo.

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This dome was made entirely out of loaves of bread.

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These domes were kept full by constantly pumping air into them via a generator.

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This dome was built to look like a large bird of prey.

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If you come to Black Rock City in a tent, there are various structures you can place over your tent to keep it cooler and dust free. Our neighbor Kristal Light built a Monkey Hut around her Coleman Bayside tent (which even had a swinging door and a small closet) and our other neighbors built a custom sized post structure around their tent.

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Some very colorful structures were in the city this year including yurts, circus tents, Moroccan tents and even a tipi covered in silk scarves.

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Of course, there were some beautiful little trailers in the city as well.

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Some unusual structures included a teardrop trailer sans trailer built onto the bed of a truck.

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A castle called the Coo Coo Camelot.

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A yellow, or lello, structure built on top of a shipping container. This structure was used by members of the Department of Public Works, the group who builds Black Rock City.

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The Open Mind Zendo near Fractal Planet was built out of cardboard boxes.

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This treehouse structure was built and used by the camp Dustfish.

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Hands down, my favorite camp in all of Black Rock City is Ashram Galactica. Their extremely well run camp contains the Grand Hotel, a colorful yurt and a set of beautifully decorated canvas bunk houses that serve as the Ashram Suites. Each of the suites are gifted by raffle to denizens of Black Rock City in a nightly drawing. They each have a theme including the Shanghai Suite, the Cambridge Suite and the French Boudoir.

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Photos by Christina Nellemann

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Yellowstone River Lodge Cabins

by Christina Nellemann on August 12th, 2013. 34 Comments

The Yellowstone River Lodge is a beautiful bed and breakfast located near the town of Billings, Montana. While the lodge itself is a larger home, tucked behind it are three small guest cabins designed by Josh Sayer, the son of lodge owners Jan and Dan Sayer. The small modern and stylish cabins were inspired by the simple agrarian structures found around the area near Billings and make their own statement in the Montana landscape.

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The larger cabin contains a full bedroom and the two smaller cabins have a studio space. All of the cabins were built by Dan Sayer with help from a local contractor. They are just over 400 square feet each and include a covered deck, Jacuzzi tubs, kitchenettes, wood-burning stoves and air conditioning. They were completed for around $25,000 each, but Josh said that if a client were to have them built, they would cost closer to $40,000 to $50,000.

Josh and his wife, both graduates of Montana State’s architecture program, recently started their own design company, Response Design, and the cabins were one of their projects. Josh has long been interested in small homes, prefab architecture and sustainability and made sure to take the surrounding land into account when he designed the Yellowstone River Lodge cabins. The cabins sit up off the ground on piers since the area is prone to flooding. Each cabin is oriented to the south with overhangs over the windows to protect them the interior from the hot summer sun.

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Photos by Response Design

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Sarah House Project

by Christina Nellemann on April 22nd, 2013. 32 Comments

Named after a San Francisco sculptor who could not afford a permanent place to live in her expensive city, the Sarah House Project in Salt Lake City, Utah is one man’s attempt to build an affordable home out of castoff shipping containers.

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Sara Putnam, (the “h” for the project had already been added to a banner advertising the building) who recently died from cancer was living at an artists’ colony at the Hunter Point Naval Shipyards — where she wasn’t supposed to be sleeping. Her friend, Jeffrey White is building a 672 square foot home out of two 8×40-foot shipping containers. While visiting the Naval shipyards one night, White noticed dock workers unloading containers and thought about turning the big metal boxes into homes. The Sarah House Project has been funded by grants, donations and money raised by Jeffrey’s custom made funeral urns. He said in a recent Salt Lake City news report that his small, custom urns take up less space below ground, just as he hopes his home will take up less ground — above the ground.

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The home will have a combination living room, dining and kitchen, a bathroom and bedroom and a day room. Jeffrey had originally put a 40-foot container on his driveway and started converting it into a house, but ran into trouble with city officials. Now the home is being built on some land procured by a local nonprofit, the Crossroads Urban Center, and when completed, will be sold to a low income family or couple.

Jeffrey estimates the cost of the project, including the land, at $108,000 – $115,000. This, he says, is close to the cost of a conventional home and is higher than he expected, but White hopes he’ll be able to bring those numbers down in future.

“I would love this house to come somewhere in the $60,000 – $75,000 range,” White said.

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Photos courtesy of the Sarah House Project

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Tiny House Fair

by Christina Nellemann on February 11th, 2013. 11 Comments

The Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont will be hosting the first ever Tiny House Fair June 14-16, 2013. The fair will include presentations on tiny houses from Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed and Four Lights Tiny House Company and Deek Diedrickson of Relaxshacks as well as workshops on how to design and build a tiny house, finish carpentry, using recycled materials, alternative power, composting toilets and creating a community.

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Registration is open to the first 100 people who sign up and the $300 cost will include all workshops, presentations and meals. Cabin lodging on the Yestermorrow campus will also be available for $50 for two nights. Participants may also camp on-site for $20 for two nights and the lodging will be free if you bring your own tiny house or camper. Off-campus lodging includes a hostel and several hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Yestermorrow offers over 150 hands-on courses per year in design, construction, woodworking, and architectural craft including a variety of courses concentrating in sustainable design and green building. Operating as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization since 1980, Yestermorrow is one of the only design/build schools in the country, teaching both design and construction skills. Our 1-day to 3-week hands-on courses are taught by top architects, builders, and craftspeople from across the country.

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Photos by Yestermorrow Design/Build School and George Soules with David Cain.