Business Insider Edition

8 of the most envy-inducing tiny homes of the year — including a house that can be printed for less than R60,000

Aria Bendix , Business Insider US
 Dec 14, 2018, 05:48 AM
The 'Draper' RV from Land Ark.
Jeremy Gudac

  • Around the world, many envy-inducing tiny homes were built in 2018.
  • The list of this year's best includes a cabin on a mountainous ledge in New Hampshire in the US, and an island of tiny homes in Norway.
  • Each project is uniquely designed, though many feature similar elements such as hidden bedrooms and retractable decks.

As housing becomes more expensive in cities, the trend of tiny living continues to pick up steam.

In 2018, tiny homes caught the eye of major corporations, acclaimed designers, car manufacturers, and 3D-printing companies, which each put their unique stamp on the concept.

The results were some of the most envy-inducing miniature structures ever built.

See also: Millions of Japanese homes are abandoned, and owners are giving them away for free

Whereas the typical tiny home is cluttered and claustrophobic, a few clever designers and architects have managed to make their units feel luxurious and spacious.

Some tower over the ocean, some sit atop mountains, and others are designed to sit in your backyard.

Here are 8 structures that represent the best tiny homes constructed or critically recognised in 2018.

An island of tiny homes sits on the coast of Northern Norway.

The island of tiny structures is intended as a retreat for artists and musicians, though the homes have attracted members of the general public as well.

There are four bedroom cabins, while the rest of the buildings house a bathhouse, kitchen, living room, seaside sauna, and mini cathedral for meditation.

You can rent the entire island for just R50,000 per week.

The concept recently won one of Architizer's 2018 A+Awards, which celebrates the world's best design projects.

This house runs on Dunkin' — literally (well, almost).

Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Dunkin' Donuts

Dunkin' Donuts isn't the first company to dabble in tiny home construction, but it's the first to build a tiny home that runs almost entirely on coffee.

With help from the manufacturing company Blue Marble Biomaterials, Dunkin' converted 30,000 kilogrammes of spent coffee grounds into enough fuel to power the entire structure.

Though the home is only 275 square feet, it has enough room for a full kitchen, bathroom, and king-sized bed. It even has a "coffee nook" for sipping your morning cup.

Yves Béhar's prefabricated units could be a solution to the housing affordability crisis in Los Angeles and San Francisco.


As a designer at the forefront of innovation, it seemed natural for Yves Béhar to make the foray into tiny home construction. The new line of prefabricated units from the Swiss industrial designer and entrepreneur are customisable and range in size from 25 to 110 square metres.

Béhar has touted the concept as a possible solution to the housing affordability crisis in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where a lack of housing stock has contributed to rising homelessness.

Though Béhar's current units cost around $280,000 – just under R4 million – he plans to design a more affordable line.

BMW designed a line of small luxury cabins.


These luxury cabins are a product of BMW's MINI Living design series, which debuted similar concepts in London, New York City, and Los Angeles. The company's latest prototype was unveiled in Beijing in collaboration with architect Dayong Sun.

Sun's cabin concept includes a mirrored ceiling, convertible walls, and an indoor swing. It draws from classic elements of Chinese architecture, including the traditional Chinese courtyard, or hutong, which creates a mixture of private and communal areas.

Though hutongs are slowly dying out, Sun's design offers a vision of how they could be incorporated into the 21st century.

The US' first permitted 3D printed home debuted in Texas.

This house's sleek and sturdy exterior was made possible by a 3D printer called The Vulcan, which can produce a home onsite without having to piece together individual parts.

Earlier this year, the housing nonprofit New Story teamed up with ICON, a construction-technology company that designs 3D printers, to create the home in Austin, Texas.

The 30-square-metre structure was built in just 48 hours for $10,000, or around R140,000. Since the printer was only running at 25% speed, the companies believe they can create a larger home - around 55- to 75-square-metres - in just 24 hours for $4,000 or less – well under R60,000.

The design company Land Ark created a "Mad Men"-inspired RV.

Jeremy Gudac

This 30-square-metre converted recreational vehicle from Land Ark was based on a single principle: "Make it simple, but significant." The quote comes from "Mad Men"'s Don Draper, who also serves as the namesake for the project.

For around $144,000, or R2 million, the Draper home comes with a deck, mudroom, and kitchen table that converts into a queen-sized bed.

The company's co-founder, Brian Buzarde, explained why he was drawn to the concept: "My favorite thing about living that way is what it does for you mentally," he told INSIDER. "You have to get rid of all the fluff and it leads to great clarity and focus that transcends into every part of your life."

A small cabin on a rock overlooks a New Hampshire valley.

I-Kanda Architects/Matt Delphenich

You can find this tiny cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the US, atop a granite ledge. Since the design was inspired by the landscape, the home features a 7-metre-wide sliding glass wall that overlooks a valley.

The structure, which was a finalist for a 2018 Architizer A+Award, was built on hand-poured concrete for stability, and assembled using modular construction.

At 80 square metres, it's on the larger side for a tiny home. The architects behind the project - a Massachusetts-based firm called I-Kanda - originally planned to create a weekend getaway for two, but decided to expand the project to meet the needs of a four-person family.

Kasita stackable homes were designed as units that could be added to existing properties.


Kasita is also the winner of a 2018 Architizer A+Award, taking home the popular choice prize from the "living small" category.

The structures were designed to be guest houses, granny flats, or backyard rental units that could be added to existing properties. They can also be stacked to maximize space in urban areas.

A 30-square-metre Kasita home takes only weeks to build and costs $139,000, or around R2 million.

"We want to take the noise out of buying a home," the company's founder, Jeff Wilson, told Business Insider in February. "Imagine how great it would be to be able to buy a home as easily as you buy a product.

Receive a single WhatsApp every morning with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa:

  • Indicators
  • JSE Indexes

Get the best of our site delivered to your inbox every day.

Sign Up