Y:Cube Housing - Tiny House Blog

Y:Cube Housing

With rising home prices and rent, the United Kingdom is going through its own housing crisis and tiny house concepts are beginning to pop up like mushrooms around the sovereign state. One concept is now being created by the YMCA in partnership with the architectural firm, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and was originally inspired by colorful beach huts.


The YMCA, known for fostering community and offering accommodations for lower income individuals and budget travelers, has come up with their own tiny prefab house. The Y:Cube is a self-contained unit that can be lived in individually or in a modular “plug and play” system. Imagine working house models that look like LEGO blocks. Each cube is 280 square feet and contains one bedroom with a double bed, a living area with a small, modern kitchen, a workspace and a lounging area. The tiny bathroom is connected to the bedroom and contains a toilet, sink and shower.



The portable, durable cubes are built using reinforced panels fixed to a renewable timber frame inside a factory. Water, heating and electrical components are built right in. The completed cubes are then assembled into two or three story blocks in a courtyard formation.

A set of 35 Y:Cubes will be built on property owned by the YMCA and offered for sale for around $50,000 (£30,000). They can also be rented for about £140 a week. The YMCA is creating the Y:Cube to be developed and financed by a range of housing providers.



Photos courtesy of Y:Cube


By Christina Nellemann for [Tiny House Blog]

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Cathy - May 26, 2014 Reply

Great idea, definitely nicer than my first apartment was!

    elpais - October 8, 2019 Reply

    Tiny Timber has big news to share! But before we get to that let me give a very brief overview of what we have been up to the last half a year: building, building, advocating for quality affordable middle-income housing in Tompkins County, and building some more. Things have been going well for us. We have kept busy. You may have witnessed some of our homes going up on West Hill, out Ellis Hollow Road, and right outside of Brooktondale. In the flurry of operations however, we feel that we have slightly lost sight of our original concept and mission: to create quality affordable homes through innovation.

    Denmark - January 24, 2020 Reply

    QB2 is the innovative tiny house from Mike Page at the University of Hertfordshire. Attracting wide interest from TV programmes and newspapers, this accommodation uses a very small 4 metres by 3 metres footprint. It can go in many suburban gardens. Heating and lighting will be very low cost indeed. At around ?45,000, this is expensive per square metre of living space, but it works super-efficiently as a dwelling for young people who might otherwise be trapped in their parents’ home.

Bob Ratcliff - May 26, 2014 Reply

One of the smartest ideas & designs I’ve seen to date. The only glitch is the price. That’s a rather steep price per foot hence the only application I can imagine is where housing – rent prices are insanely high. That’s about the only situation where I could find these costs acceptable.

    Rick Parrish - May 26, 2014 Reply

    I agree. These units should come in around 30-35K at the highest in order to be effective and true to their proposed purpose.

Jamie - May 26, 2014 Reply

In my area, north Georgia, about 10 miles from Atlanta borders you can still find a small house (work needed), about 1,000 square, for under 100k. I would rather get a mortgage of that value, 2 or 3 bedrooms, 2 or 1 bath and my own yard. If you can afford a 50k condo you can do a 100k house. Now if you don’t want a 100k house because of the work it entails than I understand the smaller space. I think I just don’t enjoy living below or on top of others. City life is not for me. I am also over 50 and can see the value of such units for the young and couples starting out that need to be in a city. It’s always nice to have options.

    Marko - May 29, 2014 Reply

    Like Russ said, you have to consider different factors in the price/squ.Foot.
    London is said to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. Everything is built-in, and if the construction details are designed to be optimal and durable enough, this is quite good! I however wonder if isolated containers wouldn’t be better/less expensive for this type of construction.

russ scott - May 26, 2014 Reply

These are great – the price – that people have commented on – has to be compared to the cost of housing in London UK – London is totaly different to the rest of the UK and can almost be considered to be a different country, regarding costs etc.

Tony - May 26, 2014 Reply

Please take a look at http://www.trailhouse.co.uk

    Dorothy - May 26, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for that site. Some beautiful tiny buildings!

Cosy - May 26, 2014 Reply

As the author noted, these are United Kingdom prices. I don’t think you’d find these cubes in the smaller cities & certainly not rural areas here in the US for that price.

I do think it would make a great little beach house, as it was originally intended. Sans hurricanes, that is.

Greg - May 26, 2014 Reply

The abolute LAST thing I would want to live in is a Lego Block.

Dominick Bundy - May 26, 2014 Reply

It needs at least one closet somewhere…

carrie - May 26, 2014 Reply

After being an avid fan of the tiny house movement…I am now an ‘expert’ on space…These cubes have tons of space and NO use of it! Where are the closets? heating units? Come on people of England get some REAL tiny house designers before attacking this housing issue.
Totally unimpressed!!!

    Marko - May 29, 2014 Reply

    I agree about the closets, it is a big flaw, but easily changeable. But the interior design is great for the fact it doesn’t make the house look like a closet. I believe there is a fallacy created by this Tinyhouse movement that pretends that every inch of space has to be optimized. This would be true if we happened to be robots. But the power of the subconscious on a human being is not to be neglected. Every person has preferences, but if I had to generalize on the human psychology, I’d say nobody wants to feel trapped in his home.

Nancy - May 26, 2014 Reply

NIce! Looks like a good use of space, and great for urban areas, since it’s stackable…

Karl Davidson - May 26, 2014 Reply

Important discussion and topic but we’re so simplistic in the all of this including the “new” Tiny House Blog presentations. Affordable, efficient, and livable designs along with the notion of building all, most, or parts inside a factory have been around for at least a century or longer in the US. This design is simple but has a lot of wasted space and very limited as to who it could serve. We need to look back; at least at the past 40 years of factory built homes, multifamily apts & dormitories, motels/hotels, etc; and at least that far historically at RV’s, travel trailers, custom mobile homes, and so on. The wide array of modern construction materials and the options they offer. There’s so much to add to the conversation.I admit to having a 50 year head start.

Wendy - May 26, 2014 Reply

Yes, a bit pricey but they do include kitchen and bath. Kind of fun that they can be stacked up. I wonder if you could get one fully furnished and then a couple more unfurnished for less. Anyway, I applaud any type of innovation when it comes to housing. And just think of how much a new car costs? It’s really not that over-the-top expensive in my opinion, depending on the quality of the workmanship.

Hunter - May 26, 2014 Reply

the person that said London is like a different world is correct it’s like comparing New york city to upstate New york two different worlds completely. like Washington DC to the rest of the state. However money is tight in the UK for the average people living there, not everyone is a Royal. they do have a lot of row houses in the cities, don’t know the costs of them . So affordable is in the eye of the buyer. love tiny homes. don’t know if land is available to regular citizens there or not.

Hunter - May 26, 2014 Reply

Tony’s link shows tiny homes starting at $18,500. with the value added taxes included in the price which includes installation.trail-house co in the UK.

david - May 26, 2014 Reply

horrible looking thing

Kriss Femmpaws - May 26, 2014 Reply

This little thing is a great idea but it’s lacking closet space and a place to put a dresser. I could see making it say a meter or so longer so you could put a closet in the wall between the bedroom and the living area.

It’s more space than I have called home for the last 15 years. I would want a little more space in the Galley for when I wanted to do some cooking or baking.

christiann - May 26, 2014 Reply

The $50k sounds like it pays for the lot, not just the home:
“A set of 35 Y:Cubes will be built on property owned by the YMCA and offered for sale for around $50,000 (£30,000).”

Gareth croot wales - May 26, 2014 Reply

50k for a 1bed apartment would be considered cheap in most parts of the uk. London it would be a bargain.
I rent in south wales and have a 3 bed house with 2 car drive and 100ft long garden and pay £100 a week. People will pay £140 a week for a studio but you would want city centre living amd its still rather high. You can buy a tinyhouseuk kit for alot less and have a real lofted tiny house. In the UK the tiny hoise spirit is coming but other than an excuse to make tiny apartments i dont think the authorities will embrace it as some in the USA have.

@woodpunk - May 27, 2014 Reply

It’s probably worth putting the costs into some sort of context.

The median cost of property in London (and not in one of the super expensive parts either!) is currently around £1,600 ($2,693 US) per sq foot. That works out to £448,000 ($754,000 US) for 280 sq foot apartment. In reality, most apartments in London start at around 500 sq feet, so you’re going to need to find £800,000 ($1,345,000 US) to get a foot on the property ladder.

£30,000 ($50,493 US) for seems like a pretty good deal to me. It’s the equivalent cost of renting a one bedroom apartment in London for 2 years.

phil - May 27, 2014 Reply

definitely the wave of the future if you ask me,
in a number of respects:
1) downsizing has to happen and will
2) factory prefab is the way to go, not stick built; cheaper, more efficient use of time and materials, better control of quality
3) versatility; these could be thought of as living space ‘pods’, especially if they were a shipping container size (hey, whole different spin there) because you could move them to your next city if you were transferred, along with all your possessions (no packing/unpacking). Think modern mobile home. Whole business segments would emerge to be involved in the relocating processes. Pod guys, are you looking at these?
Esthetically, not so much to look at, but from a practical standpoint, I’m fascinated.

Tom - May 27, 2014 Reply

That unit sitting in front of a rather elegant brick home is almost guaranteed to elicit a strong negative response from anyone who has to look at it. The esthetics of unit design and placement really need to be considered as well, to both garner support and to avoid push-back, imho.

    Frederico - May 27, 2014 Reply

    I’m pretty sure that’s the *back* of the house we’re seeing in the picture – it still creates a visual clash, though, I agree. Makes you wonder why they didn’t just match the brown brick and white trim colors …

Sharon Green - May 27, 2014 Reply

Who’s going to get the momentum started in the US to do similar projects. It’s not just “low income” housing, it’s convenient and affordable for a variety of people who want to own rather than rent. How’s the sound insulation between units?

libertymen - May 28, 2014 Reply

Not a closet in the whole thing.I dont like the bath off the Bedroom.It should be accessible via a public space.In other words not by going thru the bedroom.A loft might be a good addition to this.Front and back.

dewhit - May 29, 2014 Reply

I know that many do not care for long commutes using public transportation, but if the United States had the train and bus systems that are in Britain, there would be more affordable housing available on the outskirts and rural areas of metro areas. Personally, I love the London public transport systems.
Europe is light years ahead of the US in this area.

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