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Nano House

A new book looks at marrying design and sustainable living in diminutive dwellings

by James Thorne in Design on 05 October 2011

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Reaching beyond the simply small, Nano House: Innovations for Smaller Dwellings  seeks out shelters that combine sustainability, economy and portability. For proponents of nano architecture, the 40 houses in the book represent the future of human living. Instead of resembling coffin-like sleeping pods, each house, in harmony with its surroundings, is filled with charm and natural light.

Designs range from basic to futuristic, taking advantage of the best of modern manufacturing with traditional materials and familiar geometry. Author Phyllis Richardson's collection is the culmination of more than a decade of research and three previous publications on small-scale architecture, and the selection is proof of the architecture and design writer's supremely discerning eye.

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One of the quirkier designs from the collection is the aptly-named Blob. The ultra-mobile structure transcends the invasive nature of permanent shelters, easily placed and ready to use in any environment. It may look like George Jetson's set trailer, but the Blob manages to integrate seamlessly into nature, with modern convenience in tow.

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On the other end of the spectrum, the Soe Ker Tie Houses were designed specifically with disaster relief in mind. Resembling ultra-chic bungalows, the functional, above-ground structures are easily assembled, constructed from both local and pre-fabricated building materials. A far cry from the meager tents associated with displaced people worldwide, these houses are meant to provide their inhabitants with a sense of community and humanity, in addition to basic necessities.

Nano House is available from Amazon and Powell's.

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