The Smallest Houses in the World: An Outstanding Expression of the Life of Human Beings

The design of houses retained a common architectural language that responded to the human needs, tradition, and culture.

My father's palace where every footstep had a meaning”. This quote from Antoine de Saint Exupery expresses the design concept of the house, where every step, forms and spaces were shaped by people’s habits, desires, culture and tradition. In many parts of the world, one can realise many different examples of distinctive houses. Although there were socio-cultural differences in each region, the design of houses retained a common architectural language that responded to the human needs. The design of houses is one of the hardest and interesting tasks that any architect is asked to undertake and it requires a great design skill to fit it into the user’s need.

Houses are built in different sizes, from a small cottage to a palace, but what actually attracted my attention is that there are very old, small and tiny houses scattered around the world. I have always been fascinated by their designs, forms, and materials as well as the courage and unprecedented challenge of their owners to establish a home and shelter for their families. In his book The Place of Houses, Charles Moore described the good house as a created thing assembled of economical and meaningful parts. The house speaks not just of its materials but also of the spirits, and dreams of people’s lives. Like Moore, I believe that every architectural element in these small houses is the result of an attempt to find the best response to the owners’ needs. There is no doubt that the plans and forms of these small houses also represented a solution or an answer to a different problem that appeared according to a specific condition.

       Image credit: A 16th century house, Conway, Wales in the United Kingdom.

Image credit: A tiny house in, Wavertree, Britain. The house is inserted between two big houses.

    Image credit: A small house, Toronto, Canada    Image credit: A small house, Toronto, Canada

 Image credit: A small house, Alexandria, VA, US.   Image credit: A small house, Amsterdam

Image credit: The most famous small house is the one, where the first Stuart Little movie had taken place.

In almost all of these houses, the owners adopted a system of construction that allowed their houses to grow vertically to overcome the problem of the area of the site. I also believe that the design of these houses succeeded in displaying the structural dynamic of its masses as well as created an obvious visual interest and variety. Nevertheless, the significant qualities of these small houses come primarily from the characteristics of the houses’ form, which also established a subtle relationship with the architectural character of the houses in their areas. In fact, the beauty of the houses represents an art form that has resulted from an understanding of a unique mode of traditional and cultural human life.

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