Waxing Brasil

Brasil seems like an interesting place. Some of the world’s best beaches, music you cannot help but sway your feet to (almost all of it – I’m looking at you Pitbull), architectural experimentation in Brasília through the late Oscar Niemeyer who died (still working) at 105 years young in 2012, and after 60 years, the last VW camper van rolled off the assembly line just a few weeks ago. Although, as we have seen during the run up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, there’s a great divide between the haves and have-nots. Sometimes the tension breaks free of it’s delicate balance and you have political unrest. These are a people with passions. The world’s eye being on this country will most certainly turn out to be a good thing, as I am ever hopeful of the strength of the human spirit and desire towards justice and equality.

On to the houses…

(click to see as a slide show)

All this energy seems to be helping the construction industry, (independent of the games) and there is much fresh experimentation. It’s encouraging to see prefab in Brasil taking off. The confluence of technology and desire for newness is shattering the traditional stereotypes of modular or pre-fab housing, while managing to achieve a minimalism and spareness that celebrates both nature and shelter. Here are three examples: Mini Mod, Innotrade Modular and the off-the-grid Solar Decathlon Europe project from Team Brasil, Ekó House. Perhaps the United States is hoarding all the world’s spare shipping containers; as these examples are all of a similar ISO container modular dimension, they are all fabricated as bespoke boxes.

What’s interesting is the cultural, material and stylistic diversity of the Team Brasil strategy that manages to pull together a really well-considered concept. Although they did not win, all the entries were pretty fantastic.

Here’s a video tour of design concepts behind the Ekó house (in English).

Ekó House from EkóHouse on Vimeo.

{Credits: Top image – The Metropolitan Cathedral, located in Brasília, Brasil – by Oscar Niemeyer, 1970 – photographer Victor Soares/ABr. 2003 – source Wikimedia Commons | slides: Mini Mod – 1 through 6 – by MAPA (MAAM Studioparalelo) http://mapaarq.com, photography by Leonardo Finotti ©photo@leonardofinotti.com | Innotrade Modular – 7 through 9 – www.innotrademodular.br | Ekó House – 10 through 12 – by Team Brasil http://ekobrasil.org/

The Miter Box Tiny house



Here’s an example of a tiny house on wheels, not a container, however the details are very interesting.  It’s called the Miter Box, due to its clean corners, and was completed last summer by Shelter Wise LLC out of Portland, Oregon. In fact, you can buy the plans on the Portland Alternative Dwelling (PAD) website.  At 8.36m2 (90sf), not including the sleeping loft, it’s a fair bit smaller than what I’m planning.  The limited material palette indoors and out makes this house seem larger, although that could be partially attributed to the necessity to use wide angle lenses when photographing these spaces.


After finding this little gem, I’m starting to come around to the idea of a “wet bath” , where the whole room is a shower.  It saves a great deal of space.  In doing more research; it’s becoming clear that dealing with moisture in such a small structure can become a challenge.  Even the moisture from cooking and exhaling while asleep! Being able to seal off the bathroom from the rest of the house while the fan deals with shower steam is critical to winning the fight against condensation in the wall cavity and mold. Just another thing to keep reminding myself when it comes time to detail my final design. Note to self: looking into roof air-conditioner or dehumidifier in addition to fans.


Excitingly, there’s a tiny house hotel in Portland where this model currently resides, listed as ‘The Pearl’, along with a couple others from different sources. The next time I am in Portland, I will make it a point to visit and stay here – Caravan Hotel.

via: Tiny House Talk

{Note: original article had the area incorrectly stated at 11.15m2 (120sf), which has been corrected above}