The Box: Ralph Erskine's Precursory Tiny House in the Swedish Woods

Even with the growing number of tiny apartments and multi-functional homes coming up in the media as the small-living trend expands, there's something special about The Box, a personal project of English architect Ralph Erskine.

The story goes that he was almost thirty and a new father of two girls when he arrived in Sweden in 1941, attracted by the welfare culture and local functionalism. A farmer gave him a plot in Lissma, and he built a house for his family with materials reclaimed from the surroundings: bricks from an abandoned oven nearby, local stones and even an old iron bed for the structure.

Only 210 Sq. feet big, the final design is a work of art: terrace oriented to the south and covered in glass to let sun and heat in, kitchen and living area divided by a chimney, a mattress which can be used as sofa and bed hanging above, and even a working space with a collapsable table.

Perhaps the most striking quality of the house is that the design is so simple, warm, and on the spot, that it becomes invisible. Although there is only one room, the space feels inviting for all family activities, even for Erskine's professional work.

The family lived in the place for four years and then used it as a summer house, but it eventually fell down. The one in the pictures is a reconstruction the architect himself did in a donated parcel in Lovön, in 1989, and then donated to the local Architecture Museum.

Erskine went on to develop his entire career in Sweden, mainly focusing on social housing which reflects the smart thinking on space and living The Box embodies. (h/t Hacedor de trampas).

It's interesting how as our views about architecture and urban design evolve, we are able to appreciate the work of professionals who were perhaps overlooked in their time. In that line, be sure to check out Joao Filgueiras Lima's work in Salvador, Brazil.

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