Asian Pop-Up Tiny Houses

Asian Pop-Up Tiny Houses


With nearly 130 million people living in Japan alone and over 1.3 billion people in China, many Asian architects have been working on a few unique ways to house their inhabitants. Just like Japanese ramen, even some of their tiny homes have become “instant”. These two designs are a few examples of what are being labeled as pop-up houses:

The Tricycle House

This tiny wheeled house from the People’s Republic of China is beneficial to people who may not be able to afford a city apartment or a home with land. The portable house is towed with a bicycle and can be configured in several ways. It’s constructed of translucent polypropylene plastic using a CNC router, it retains its strength during folding such that it can open up and expand for increased space and connection to other units. This tiny structure contains a kitchen with a sink, a bathroom with a small tub and a water tank, a living/ sleeping area with storage and even an attachable outdoor garden.





The Kenchikukagu Apartment

The Atelier-Opa design company in Japan has created a pop-up “apartment”. Each foldaway room (a kitchen, a bedroom and an office) look like rolling cabinets, but open up to show shelving, bedding, seating and individual pieces of furniture. This type of design would only work in an already built shelter since there is no roof or flooring. Currently the Kenchikukagu designs are only available to dealers and cost between 7,000 and 10,000 Chinese Yuan or about $1,120 to $1,600.




Photos courtesy of Jetson Green and Atelier-Opa

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]


  1. the tow behind looks good but are they insulated for winter? it gets very cold in parts of japan and china. or is the plastic shell suposed to be for solar gain? works good in the sun and for wwarmer climates, I Guess.

    • The Tricycle House was designed by the People’s Architecture Office and the People’s Industrial Design Office in Beijing, China. I happened upon the post on Jetson Green.

  2. A group of tiny houses together on the move, and they even have a garden… That reminds me of the sci-fi story “Mortal engines” quartet by Philip Reeve, where people live inside cities on wheels that are fighting and devouring each others for food and raw materials. Some of the cities are even self-sufficient and raise their own crops.

    This folding structure provides comfort beyond what a normal tent would provide, and it even has a shower! I prefer better insulation for full-time living, but it’s good enough for summer camping. I would add the wind straps to peg it to the ground or tie it to a tree.

  3. I find anything that folds into itself amazing. When no one could find me as a kid, I would be under the porch card table that had a full cover over it.

    Shelter is shelter, and these folks have improvised as needed. My hat is off to them.

  4. 2 comments; 1st to Hunter…the poor will work hard and afford these VERY affordable rooms..Perhaps build a lean-to….

    2nd comment: How did we ever win that war?????

    BRILLIANT design, Kudos!!!!!!

  5. Realistically look at the set up. Can you really see this set up as a year round option? No land option? What parking lot are you going to set this up on?

    This is neat and all but that is about it….

    The way we won the war is we built big heavy things to kill people with better than they did….

  6. I think the Tricycle House would be a good plan to bring to the USA for street people / homeless persons. Perhaps it isn’t well-insulated but it would be a dry shelter that could be picked up and moved with little impact to the surrounding environment.

    • Good idea. I read a different post that in some cities the cops ‘look the other way’ if such portable structures are moved often enough. Otherwise city rules prohibit living in anything under a certain square footage. It is that ‘square footage’ rule that keeps so many folk homeless—they can’t afford it.

  7. correction of spelling
    The pop up house is little more than an ingenious collapsible tent, but i doubt that occupants can put up with extreme hot or cold weather while sleeping in it, but I’m open to be proven wrong. and ventilation in plastic buildings?

  8. Man – other countries are sure coming up with so many cool toys – gotta love the net for allowing us to see them.

    I really like this one… I’ve been toying with an idea for a couple months on a 106″ camper style – have most of the parts but unfortunately – someone tossed the main framing when I wasn’t around last week to get rid of the “junk”. Arrgh!

    Anyway – I do like the fact with this one you have a full stand up ceiling height – very modern looking interior. Though a little too sterile stark white for my taste. But great idea.

    Don’t think it would handle well towing in the wind… or I’d hate to have to pull it in the wind. but it is nicer than the one I have… lol or was going to have…

  9. Nothing that actually contributes to housing persons in realistic manner here. Student project that made it into the media for filler.

    How about the wheelbarrow or shopping cart fold out for the poor and working class ?

    Uh…no….that was a joke.

  10. Shopping cart fold-out or transformer type shelter? Now there’s an idea….okay, design students, run with this one……let’s see what you come up with! Thank you to Japan for your ideas!

  11. […] Some of the most cutting-edge design is happening outside the U.S., such as in Tokyo, the world’s most populated city and one of the most expensive. There, living tiny is often not a choice or a philosophy but a necessity. Radical tiny homes abound there, such as the microcompact Paco House cube or the bullet-shaped Lucky Drop House, which is only 30 inches wide at its narrowest point. Even tinier housing possibilities include portable Tricycle Homes that can be joined together like Legos, or prefabricated Pop-Up Houses. […]