manic monday – modern living in 128 sf

The Tiny House movement is BOOMING. It’s all over the news, blogs, the web…it’s everywhere. And in searching through so many of the “tiny home” blogs and websites, an interesting trend emerges that I wanted to talk about: They all look almost exactly the same. There is a decidedly “traditional” style to the majority of tiny homes out there on the market and I am wondering why this is. Is there just a tiny home “style” that naturally takes shape because of functional concerns or is it just an aesthetic choice? I propose that it’s mostly aesthetic. Let me explain.

If you take a typical Tiny Home design, what do you see? You see a typical rectangular plan with a steep gable roof that accommodates a loft space. There are obvious height and area concerns here because most tiny homes, in order to be permitted need to be attached to a trailer frame to be classified as a mobile structure. This is the only way to get around building and zoning code requirements for living spaces (which are really stupid and arbitrary by the way).

Image courtesy of tiny house blog

So, above is a picture of your typical tiny home. Most designs will take cues from this theme – a simple framed gable structure on a 8′ x 16′ trailer. The roof is typically a steep 45 degree pitch in order to accommodate the loft with enough head room to use the space underneath. Now, I ask, is this really the most efficient way to design a roof structure when square footage is a premium?

Answer – not really.

This isn’t to say that the above design isn’t functional or even efficient, but like any thing else in life there is room for improvement. Let me also say that I doubt I’m the first guy to think of this either. I’m clever, but not THAT clever.

Solution – a dome roof.

example of domed roof on tiny home trailer without loft

I know…simple, right? Well, after pouring through page after page of google images it seems it’s not so simple. I did come across a few examples of tiny homes that had domed roof profiles, but these were few and far between. What’s so special about a dome roof on a tiny home, you might ask? Well, when your goal is to maximize the usable space while minimizing the overall height of the structure, a dome is the way to go. If you think back to geometry class, if you draw a diamond shape (half of the diamond would be our gable) and then draw a circle with a diameter equal to the diagonal of the diamond (half of which would be our dome) then you easily see the square footage that you’re gaining in this type of roof.

square (gable) within a circle (dome)

So, again, I’m not the first guy to think of this. But I wonder, why aren’t there more popular Tiny Home designs that take advantage of this simple design aesthetic? I’m hoping a few tiny home enthusiasts will see this and offer their own 2 cents to the discussion. Tiny homes aren’t for everyone, much as container homes are also not for your average homeowner, but they do offer unique and interesting solutions for those looking for the ultimate in “downsized” living and I hope to see much more of this alternative architectural style in the future.