LifeSize, A house for life

Client: BouwEXPO Tiny Housing
Location: Almere, The Netherlands
Status: Competition, received Public Award

LifeSize Tiny Houses – A House for Life

LifeSize Tiny Houses are the answer to a number of challenges of nowadays living. It the context of tiny houses it is important that they are conceived not in isolation but in constellations, as part of a context.

Tiny Houses Competition - Almere, the Netherlands

General View of the LifeSize Tiny Houses

Tiny Housing Movement

The social and architectural ‘Tiny House’ movement advocates simple living in compact and efficient homes. ‘Liberated living’ rather than ‘establishing living’ is the guiding principle for people looking to be less dependent on material possessions, less anchored in physical settings and more free to suit their evolving needs.

The future of living lies in serving people’s individual lifestyles, changing needs and evolving dynamics. Even the most sedentary individuals will have widely different living needs throughout their life, if only due to different life stages: from childhood to student-years, from young professionals to young couples, from having a first child to retirement. Add to that the wide horizon of choices our modern lifestyles offer and you have individuals whose main value is flexibility, agility and freedom.

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Tiny Houses Competition - Almere, the Netherlands

LifeSize Tiny Houses are designed with four main driving concepts:

1. Diversity of Individuals: far from the connotations of social housing, the LifeSize houses are not to be the solution when people can’t afford ‘better’. LifeSize houses are a choice and so they cater to the individuals needs but also taste and preferences such as urban location, views, outdoor spaces, interior size and facilities.

2. Interaction of the Community: specially in urban contexts, the LifeSize houses are not about a small crammed interior space, instead they are about efficient and exact interior space and abundant outdoor common space to be shared with the rest of a community of people with similar lifestyles.

3. Smart and Sustainable: the LifeSize houses are designed to be easily assembled, disassembled and transported. They are made of prefab and reusable materials, they are produced in series.

4. Adaptable and Agile: the LifeSize houses are conceived of a base unit of 12,96m2 (net area 11,56m2), we call them ‘Cells’. Every house can be made of 2 to 4 cells. This modular system means that people have the flexibility to choose their own interior configuration, components and size based on the stage of life they are in. They can also expand or shrink their house as their situation changes.

Tiny Houses Competition - Almere, the Netherlands

Three Scales of LifeSize Tiny Houses

LifeSize Tiny Houses are conceived on 3 scales: the scale of the individual house, the scale of the immediate neighbours and the community scale.

1. The individual house: starting from a catalogue of ‘Cells’, which are the base house units, houses can be customized to be a 25m2 (2 Cells), 37m2 (3 Cells) or 50m2 (4Cells) house, on one floor or two. To be most efficient, you can start with the size of house that you need at the present and expand or shrink your house by adding or removing Cells depending on your needs.

2. The immediate neighbours: in urban contexts, it is important to utilize the vertical dimensions. An Urban Unit is made of 12 cells divided on 3 levels. Each Urban Unit contains up to 2 houses, each made of up to 4 interior cells.

3. The community scale: in this urban arrangement, courtyards are crucial for wind ventilation, sun exposure, but also to create human sized communities. In fact, the courtyards here are half courtyards, which means that they are 3 sided and have 1 side on an interior street. They promote open not closed communities.

Tiny Houses Competition - Almere, the Netherlands

The Rules of LifeSize Tiny Houses

LifeSize Tiny Houses are designed to strike the balance between the individual and the community. So besides a set of absolute rules that dictate the urban arrangement, a set of live rules is developed to ensure that everyone’s measures are taken depending on the real time of everyone else’s measures. Where, how much and to which height can a house be built depends on a set of absolute rules determined by urban conditions such as courtyards, heights, sun orientation, ventilation but also by a set of live rules that depend on the neighbouring’s condition.

Absolute rules:

A. Urban Level Occupancy: Starting from a site grid, the optimum location of open spaces is determined based on the site conditions, the sun orientation and the wind direction. In addition, in order to minimize shadows casted and maximize views, where the height of houses can be GF+1 or GF+2 has been set.

B. Housing Level Occupancy: Our smallest unit is a based on a 11,56m2 cell, and every house can be formed by up to 4 cells (resulting in a net area of 46,24m2). In one urban unit, which is the space of 12 cells equally distributed on 3 levels, up to 2 houses can be built.

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Relative or Live rules:

A. Cellular Automaton: “A cellular automaton is a collection of “coloured” cells on a grid of specified shape thatevolves through a number of discrete time steps according to a set of rules based on the states of neighbouring cells. The rules are then applied iteratively for as many time steps as desired”.

The rule of ground floor density is based on the urban Occupancy layout of the Absolute rules. For the first and second floors, the rules are not absolute but depend on the preceding neighbour’s situation. For the first floor, the rule of 4 in 6 cells applies. For the second floor, the rule of 1 in 6 cells applies. The resulting scheme is much like a Cellular Automaton.

B. Individual Level of Density: The factor that determines if you can build a cell on the second floor, is the cumulative height in your immediate surrounding. Considering n are the orthogonally adjacent cells and m are the diagonally adjacent cells, the formula is: If (n+1/2*m) < 5.5 then you can build the second floor in the location considered. However, if (n+1/2*m) > 5.5 then you are not allowed to build in that location on the second floor.

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Sustainability measures:

We believe sustainability is not only about green or ecological measures. “Sustainable” means a system that can sustain itself for the long-term future and so it is a much wider scope that eco-friendly materials.

Personal sustainability:

The housing needs of every person change and evolve through his/her lifecycle. This means that there no need for changing houses instead, your own house can grow and shrink as needed, making sure only what is needed is used at any given time.

Social sustainability:

Specially in urban environments, creating social cohesion is key in creating a successful community, and that starts with interactions. To foster interactions, common spaces are essential. Residents will use terraces, courtyards and inner streets to connect and interact. The houses will grow and adapt with the lives of the people inhabiting it.

Global sustainability:

By creating a working prototype of urban tiny houses, the local knowledge gained from such a project can be extrapolated to inform the global urban communities about a viable alternative. It is important that even though the learning and the knowledge are global, the application, materials and manufacture remain local.

Food production:

The common courtyard is not only ideal for children playing, people interacting or simply enjoying some outdoor time, they are also an opportunity to have allotments and collaborate around growing local ingredients.

Water collection:

A system of water collection runs from the roofs and terraces to underground cisterns.

Solar Panels:

The roof of each unit is ideal to be equipped with up to six solar panels, with a production of 0,4Kw. Sharing the energy production among all neighbours makes the entire neighbourhood energetically self-sufficient.

Ecological materials:

Recyclable and reusable materials, such as wood and steel, are used to reduce the impact of construction on the environment due to construction. Prefab XLAM wood panels (85×270) are provided with natural fibres for better insulation. X-LAM wood panels, for the cells, are connected with a system of joint and are attached to a steel support structure.

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