Despite what we humans like to believe, our planet was not made to support us indefinitely. As our population continues to grow (the UN predicts we’ll reach a staggering 9.8 billion by 2050), space has become a major concern. Those already here are forced to deal with exorbitant home prices due to the fact that the number of people vying for a place to live has doubled in the last 50 years. Add in the fact that homelessness is already running rampant in most nations, and tiny homes present a perfect solution to all problems.
Tiny homes are defined by their ability to put everything a homeowner needs — such as a bathroom, bed, kitchen, and living space — into an exceptionally compact space. By taking advantage of every square inch available, tiny homes offer an affordable and entirely liveable alternative to a normal house. This is precisely why shipping containers and concrete pipes are so heavily favored in the tiny home industry.
Making Life Smaller
Most shipping containers are eight feet wide, nine-and-a-half feet tall, and either 20 or 40 feet long. On average, a used 20-footer costs anywhere between $1,400 and $2,800, whereas a 40-footer costs $3,500 – $4,500; include the cost of labor to make the material liveable and you can be sitting pretty on a tiny home of your own for around $15,000 — a significant savings over the average $200,000 home price in the United States.
As the most used manmade material in the world — and an inexpensive one at that — concrete has recently joined the tiny homes ranks. What originally started in Hong Kong as a way to provide affordable housing for the overwhelming population, OPods have proven their value; the two-and-a-half meter wide concrete water pipes have been transformed into 9.29-square-meter homes, allowing them to fit into narrow gaps between buildings and be stacked in self-contained low rise modular communities.
Since the debut of the OPod prototypes, America has been exploring the possibilities of concrete pipes: in a contest devised to show how making affordable housing can be a reality in an age where homelessness in the United States is a huge problem, Bolivia-born architectural student Sandra Guillen created her Pipe Dream. The 16-feet-long, eight feet in diameter concrete pipe was designed to offer 100 square feet of living space, complete with a shower/toilet room, a collapsible bed, workstation, and even a covered porch.
The ingenuity of creators like Guillen and James Law (who founded the studio that built the OPods) proves that the problems of a rising population, sky-high home costs, and even the homelessness epidemic can be solved. If we continue to persevere for the good of humanity, there’s no telling how much we can accomplish.