Faced with rising rents, apartment-hunting urbanites increasingly seek out novel options. Prefab micro homes promise affordable alternatives – tailored to their residents’ wishes.

A tiny revolution is on the rise: A new trend unshackles homes from elaborate foundations and sturdy brick walls. More and more living structures have come to resemble cars – compact, flexible and made-to-measure in a factory. Micro home vs. mortgage? These exciting concepts promise to turn us all into proud home owners.

Safe, square – KODA

The model by Estonian design collective Kodasema has abolished the need for foundations, allowing owners to move their semi-mobile abode within a day. Covering a mere 25 square meters, the straightforward, compact cube boasts an open living room with gallery, separated from the patio by a generous glass façade. Necessities and cozy comforts (kitchen, bath, bedroom) are tucked away towards the rear. Intrigued? “KODA” is extremely customizable and can be adjusted to almost any preferences right in the factory.

Living in a box: Bert’s Boxes

A narrow hallway. Straight ahead, there is a bathroom; to the right, an airy bedroom; on the left, a large living space, complete with kitchen island and outdoor deck. Everything we need in a single box, or so the London design team at Bert & May has set out to prove, supported by architects from Box 9. Their pride and joy: a clever small home that is big on creature comforts. At 13.5 meters long, the container-style house’s dimensions seem almost extravagant and come clad in a rustic or chic exterior. Who said tiny homes should be minimalist?

Microhome Bert's Box
“Bert’s Box” …
Photo: Bert & May
Living room in a microloft
… is a clever small home …
Photo: Bert & May
Bedroom of the microloft Bert's Box
… by London based designers …
Photo: Bert & May
Bathroom design by Bert & May
… Bert & May.
Photo: Bert & May
Interior in Bert's Box
Photo: Bert & May
Hallway in Bert's Box
Photo: Bert & May

Pearls before swine

Sure, two grunting pigs and a few other critters might not be your idea of an average urban view, but everything about the “Magnificent Container” epitomizes the tongue-in-cheek approach of London-based Carl Turner Architects. Created for a charitable children-in-need project at East London’s Hackney City Farm, the friendly micro home with bright orange swing doors doubles as a fantastic, close-to-nature workspace.

Magnificent Container in London
Beastly good: …
Photo: Tim Crocker
Farm of the Magnificent Container
… the Magnificent Container …
Photo: Tim Crocker
Micro home in London
… at London’s …
Photo: Tim Crocker
Hackney City Farm in London
… Hackney City Farm.
Photo: Tim Crocker

Its sister project, the “Slip House“, takes an equally urban, yet airy and experimental approach. Its basic premise: Similar to a container terminal, it simply places living and work spaces on top of each other. A box for living, one for sleeping, and one for working. For added visual coherence and style, striking green industrial glass adds a special touch to the Slip House.

Microhome "Slip House" in London
The Slip House …
Photo: Tim Crocker
Living room of the "Slip house"
… offers a flexibly stackable …
Photo: Tim Crocker
Interior of micro house "Slip House"
… living space.
Photo: Tim Crocker

Outstanding design

Halls of residence? The future designers at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design in Little Rock, Arkansas, had a slightly different notion of what student accommodation should look like. Their teetering “Cantilever House“ takes two wood-clad prefab modules, stacks these to staggering effect and offers its residents a compact, yet fully equipped home with plenty of light and a spacious patio. A simple and stunning approach that won the students an Honor Award by the American Institute of Architects of Arkansas. Maybe due to the fact of its resemblance to the seminal “Wolkenbügel” by Russian avantgardist El Lissitzky from 1924.

The Cantilever House offers …
Photo: Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
… rooms with plenty of light …
Photo: Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
… and a wood-clad exterior.
Photo: Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design

Harmonious triad

It’s clear that we need new homes. Preferably, ones that look great in any surroundings. Homes like the “Futteralhaus”, for example. This ambitious, design-heavy box is based on a clever and well-considered logistical and consumption concept that incorporates anything from solar energy supply to sophisticated drone deliveries. A big plus: With its clear profile and uncluttered interior, the result is easy on the eye while the harmonious composition of bedroom, bath and living/dining area certainly pleases the senses. Ever since the first module’s design by Maxim Kurennoy in 2011, the concept has been continually refined, just waiting for adventurous mavericks and lateral thinkers eager to fulfil their dreams of truly flexible living.

Micro home Futteralhaus
The Futteralhaus …
Photo: Futteralhaus / Dmitry Yagovkin
Kitchen of a micro house
… by Maxim Kurennoy …
Photo: Futteralhaus / Dmitry Yagovkin
Terrace of the microhome "Futteralhaus"
… awaits mavericks and lateral thinkers.
Photo: Futteralhaus / Dmitry Yagovkin