While this strange, tiny house is far from a cozy Hobbit home, it is intriguing. The experimental Truffle, by the Spanish architecture firm, Ensamble Studio, was built on the Costa da Morte over the course of several years using an interesting mix of local soil, hay bales, concrete and a calf named Paulina.
The Truffle started out as a hole in the ground and the interior was created with straw bales that were covered with a concrete shell and soil. The mound was then left to cure for several years as essentially a large boulder. Over that time the land and weather provided the concrete with its texture, color and form and the concrete and snugly wrapped hay bales created what would become a future room.
When the architecture firm came to unwrap their experiment, they used a quarry machine to chop off the front and back of the mound. A small calf, Paulina, was brought in to chomp away at the compressed hay bales. She fed on the bales for a year and walked away a fat and happy 661 lb. cow.
With the new, bovine-assisted interior, the group designed a clean, minimalist getaway with a sink, a fireplace, lighting and a bed with a view of the ocean. You can see the building process in the YouTube video below.
Photos by Ensamble Studio
by Francis E.L. Watson
Twenty-five years ago I purchased an ocean cliffside lot in a sleepy little pacific coast Mexican fishing village. The Idea was to slooooowly build the way the village locals do – as you can afford it! A couple of years went by and I married a tropical woman. We decided to design and build a little tiny house on it. The first decade or so was spent slowly building a series of retaining rockwall terraces on the very steep hillside.
We began construction of The Bird House in 2000, and, finished the first incarnation 7 years later. It is built 70 meters above the ocean beach, straight up! In the photo the place looks huge, but in reality the main structure is only 5m x 6m and a 7.5m inside roof peak. Concrete, brick, stone and palma royal thatched roof construction. It is a ‘breathing’ house using two towers that act like morning and evening wind chimneys. No doors in the passageways, no glass or screen in the windows, only heat absorbing archways that bring in the outside without the tropical heat.
Off the electrical grid with multiple grey water fields that irraigate fruit orchards. Typhoon/storm bunker built into sw middle corner below outside living room. The place is set up for our annual journey south in our vintage motorhome, The Big Fish’. And that’s another story!
As a tiny house enthusiast I think it is important to look at all options around the world. We can learn from other people and I like to share as many of these ideas as I can.
Tom Bennett recently sent me to WorldHaus a company that has come up with an affordable home for the masses (outside the U.S.). And by affordable they mean $1,500 per house. It’s called the WorldHaus; it is a 220 square foot home built of interlocking compressed earth-bricks, steel and polystyrene roof panels, and concrete.
The bulk of the materials are assembled on site and the house can be built in 10 days. They provide solid, weather-tight housing for about half the price of a normal brick-and-mortar home.
A few years ago we purchased some vacant land in northern New Mexico. We chose that area based on a number of factors. Some of those included wide-open space, abundant sunshine, affordability and artistic history (Georgia O’Keeffe lived down the road a bit). Our long term goal is to retire there and pursue a simple artistic life. One of the main reasons we chose that piece of property is its remoteness to other neighbors and the lack of congestion that comes from urban living. Urban living has a lot of advantages like electricity, water, and corner coffee shops. We plan to work around some of these conveniences using “off-grid” practices. I have enjoyed camping since I was toddler. The slower pace of life in an environment more closely linked with nature has always been a draw. Our cabin provides all of this with far more elbow room than a tent. Add in windows, a wood stove and a comfy bed and what could be better?
Site Location and Solar Power
Our parcel of land is a bit under 42 acres and nearly all the land around us is uninhabited grazing land. In fact, the people we bought our land from still graze horses and cattle on their square mile that surrounds us. I have spent enjoyable nights there listening to the baying of cattle and cry of a lonely coyote. Our decision to go “off-grid” was simple: the nearest utility pole to our cabin is nearly a mile away. We could have paid thousands of dollars to run power poles and lines to “connect” but then those “lines” would disturb our pristine views and require a monthly payment. For a fraction of that cost, we simply installed a basic PV (Photovoltaic) system. Our cabin is small at a bit under 200 sq. feet and has modest energy needs. Continue Reading »