Cinder Box MicroDwelling

Cinder Box

Cinder Box is a MicroDwelling inspired by a desire to produce a prototype for small scale living and working. The 200sf unit includes a general living space with corner sliding doors opening up to an exterior porch. There is a desk alcove for a small office, a storage closet and a bookcase that doubles as a ladder to the bed loft over the desk. As a prefabricated structure, dimensioned to be easily transported, the dwelling can be placed on any lot, as a rural cabin, or as a secondary structure on urban and suburban properties.

The exterior is clad in Japanese shou-sugi-ban style burnt wood siding. The weathered exterior massing is “cut” to expose the inner “flesh” of clear coat plywood. A steel window system set back to create a porch encloses the interior space while opening up the corner.

The design aesthetic was inspired by the dichotomy in desert life. Cacti, such as the saguaro, have rough exterior skins that can handle the intense environment while the interior plant flesh is often soft and wet, designed to hold moisture and the essentials for desert survival. The design plays on this duality with a rough burnt wood exterior contrasting the soft clear wood interior. The shou-sugi-ban provides a long term finish that doesn’t require maintenance as it is fire and rot resistant. Wabi-sabi is the Japanese aesthetic that is exemplified by the natural, simple, austere beauty in weathered materials. This raw aesthetic perfectly transposes to the Sonoran Desert’s inherent character. These diverse inspirations intersect to produce a simple and efficient design for modern living.

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Cinder Box sunset

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Deek - October 30, 2013 Reply

Very awesome….

Gail M - October 30, 2013 Reply

Cute, but I want way more privacy than that.

Bob H - October 30, 2013 Reply

Very nice looking, I would need about a 16×20 or 16×24 and I would be all set. Best of all no wheels.

    Sam - October 30, 2013 Reply

    Benn doing a lot of research on micro living. I have found that any building over 10 X 20′ you pay property tax on and have to get city building permits. I am leaning toward building 2 10 x 20s. The ‘Park Models’ do have axels and wheels and get up to 400 sq ‘ and they are considered RVs so there is NO property tax. The lowest price result if money is an issue, is to buy a 40’ older school bus (schools sell them every year) and then convert it into a home. I have one with carpet, kitchen stove, frig, counters, cupboards, drawers, electric heating stove, queen sized bed, closet, small bath room & living room. I bought everything from auctions or parted out RVs. Very low total $ spent. And no property tax. I built a covered deck all around it, skirted the wheels and have no intention of ever moving it. It is low cost living. Very warm during the winter and air conditioned in summer. Just thought I’d share. Happy Halloween

      Taylor Scott - October 30, 2013 Reply

      Sounds great… have any photos? Did you by some land?

      I’m trying to put out all the options on the table before I make a final decision.

      A school bus would work.

      Photos could give me some ideas. I like the covered deck idea!

      Bob H - October 31, 2013 Reply

      Greetings Sam, sounds like you have a great and interesting place.
      For me its not about avoiding permits, not paying property taxes or low costs, I do not like wheels on a house. If someone wants a camper or RV that’s fine for them. I want to be attached to the ground.

        sc - October 31, 2013 Reply

        i hear you! someone could just up and steal your entire house when you are away at work or shopping.

      Bobbi - May 22, 2014 Reply


      some parts of the country, you do pay property tax on park models. Some tax offices do not have RV’s on the books and do not want to lose the tax, they tax them as a mobile.

    Arthur - November 5, 2013 Reply

    I’m planing to buy cheap vacant lot and installed two container .Under the container you can use as a garage.

70marlin - October 30, 2013 Reply

nice, I’d like to have a glass of wine or two there!

Alexandra - October 30, 2013 Reply

I think it’s lovely. I would want a bit more privacy than this looks like it affords for daily living but a space like this certainly has it’s place. I love the whole aesthetic.

Leauxra - October 30, 2013 Reply

I absolutely love this. I am still waiting to find a tiny house that I could actually afford. This one might just fit the bill.

Lorraine - October 30, 2013 Reply

Ditto on the privacy issue, but I also wonder how tiny houses fare, temperature-wise, in desert conditions. Also, nice as it looks, that’s a lot of floor-space given up to the porch.

TomLeeM - October 30, 2013 Reply

If it had the ‘smart window’ that goes opaque when one flips a switch, it would provide some privacy when needed.

I think it is a really nice design.

WakeFloyd - October 30, 2013 Reply

Thanks for the comments everyone! We’ve put a lot of work in to this and have endless hours left to actually build it for the exhibition, so it means a lot to us that people enjoy it… Just wanted to respond to a couple of comments. As far as privacy, landscaping could go a long way to concealing the main living area. Also, if this were to be built for a particular client, we would surely take those needs in to account to customize the design or use landscaping elements to satisfy those needs for privacy.

Bob H- It is actually designed to fit on an oversized trailer – thus the lack of its own wheels.

Thanks again for the interest everyone!

    Judy Hopton - November 2, 2013 Reply

    I have been living on a houseboat I designed and built for over 2 years. Interior space is 10×20. It is working out well! Floating structures pay no RE taxes either-just a yearly tag.
    This is a beautiful design. I love your cinderblock house.

Sam - October 30, 2013 Reply

* 20′
* 40′

Donna - October 30, 2013 Reply

I usually prefer a cottage style , but this chic modern design really caught my eye. The desert location is perfect. The glass and patio make it unconfining. I would add shades for privacy when needed. Can we see more interior? Need a kitchen area and a bathroom 😉

Kj - October 31, 2013 Reply

I wonder how non toxic the materials are? Is the wood treated or untreated? Are any particleboards/drywall used, as well as sealants, glues, etc? Is this box on a foundation, a trailor? Is there a bathroom in this micro dwelling? And are there electricity hookups or solar press-wiring?

Carl - October 31, 2013 Reply

What’s the point of so large a porch if the windows open to essentially make the entire living area a porch?

Jim - November 1, 2013 Reply

I sold a cinder block house with a stucco exterior 2 years ago. Great thermal mass and energy efficiency but until the stucco was on the outside, rain would soak through the wall when driven by a strong wind. There is a group of camp meeting cabins at Cuba, Alabama that are made of cinder block.
If possible, move to the country and leave building codes behind. Or at least get a rural farm waiver.

Cynthia Williams - November 2, 2013 Reply

I love the modern aesthetic of this design. Most tiny houses are too ‘twee’ and cutesy for my taste. I don’t see why a tiny home always needs to look like an outtake from The Hobbit. Not that there’s anything wrong with that 🙂 of course. But let us postmodern folks go tiny too. 🙂

Gigi - October 29, 2014 Reply

I love your work and would like to give you a challenge. I want to buy a bus and live in it. I want it to be non-toxic, eco-friendly, made with renewal sources, off-grid, solar, battery, compostable and completely self-sufficient. No need to hook up to anything to exist and made for under the amount you used to create the structure shown above.

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