Talented Architect Goes Minimalist With His Latest Escape One Tiny House

credit: Escape One

Architect Kelly Davis has been trying his hand at tiny houses for a while, and it is a lot of fun watching the evolution with their latest, the Escape One. Architecture is hard. As architect Michael Green noted recently, “every building we do is essentially a prototype.” That’s one of the attractions of prefab building; you get to tweak it until you get it right. It is also a virtue of the Tiny House world; not having foundations or niceties like building permits, the design cycle is so fast that one can see evolution of ideas happen in months rather than years.

credit: Escape One

But the new Escape one takes minimalism to a whole new level with a serious Asian influence. It is lined with wood, clad in traditional Shou Sugi Ban, but its interior is totally different from their earlier models. It has a tiny kitchen, a small bathroom and leaves the rest open, left to the occupant’s imagination. They say it has “the flexibility to be used in dozens of ways to let you fully express yourself and serve your needs.”

credit: Escape One

The plan is simple and straightforward; there is a lot of storage under the stairs, and a lot of undefined space that makes it quite flexible, compared to their earlier units that were programmed down to the last inch. It’s also lighter and cheaper at under $50K (although still at the high end). It meets all the rules for an RVIA certified travel trailer, which means that it can go into any trailer or RV park; a lot of tiny homes do not meet the standard and can’t. (it’s an industry thing, keeps out the riffraff and the DIYs). At 25 feet long (30 with hitch) and at 8500 pounds I wouldn’t want to be towing it behind my little Subaru, but an experienced driver with a good sized pickup or SUV could handle it.

credit: Escape One

It also has one of the safest looking stairs I have seen yet in a tiny house, narrow but not too steep and with a rail that will be approved by the Handrail Police who lurk on TreeHugger, waiting to pounce when we show deadly stairs. The loft is relatively high too, at 5 feet; that’s seriously more than there is in the usual headbanger. They do not tell us what the height is in the living area, but they must have done some serious engineering to get the entire home in under the 13’-6” limit. You can see one trick they have done to gain a bit of ceiling height- that box under the window is probably enclosing a wheel well. Most tiny home builders use a chassis where they are sitting on top of the wheels; here, the unit is built on top of the axle height and the wheels have to protrude into the interior. It’s a small price to pay.

credit: Escape One

One thing that really surprises me is the living area’s lack of windows; just a small one high on the wall at the end. This increases energy efficiency and I suppose, flexibility, and there is a really big window nearby. But this seems unusually restrained.

credit: Escape Vista

The only thing I can think of is that they spent a night in the Escape Vista and froze to death. It had way too much window, but I think perhaps that this one has too little.

credit: Traveler XL

There is a problem I have seen with the design of tiny houses- in the boat and RV world, people expected seriously tiny bathrooms and prided themselves on turning out big meals on two burner stoves. Many tiny houses, including the Escape Traveler series in particular, are designed to give all the comforts of a traditional house (big bedroom and bath, full kitchen) in a small space. The Traveler Exel model did that extremely well, giving people what they have said that they want. But when you finally see it, I think it begs the question of whether it is what you really need.

credit: Escape Vista

The Escape Vista seemed to be a reaction to the Traveler; mini fridge, and no range at all. Lots of glass, open and bright. I have noted before that this is a trend, as induction stovetops are so light and easy to set up that you can think of them like you do with coffee makers and rice cookers, putting them away when not needed. You can also get by in small spaces with a combo toaster/convection oven, like they do in New York’s Carme Place small apartments (and I do in my summer cabin.)

credit: Escape One

I like how the Escape One keeps it so minimal. I worried enclosing the space under the stairs would make it feel far too narrow, but it doesn't really. Looking from the living area (and the space is not so large that it really is a separate living room) that window certainly is large enough.

credit: Escape One

I do love the Shou Sugi Ban exterior; this is a Japanese wood treatment where you burn the exterior of cedar and then rub with a bit of oil. It looks great, lasts hundreds of years, is bug and flame resistant. You can buy it readymade or DIY, which is what they appear to have done here. Once again, Kelly and Dan have challenged the conventions of the Tiny House. They certainly don’t let us suffer for lack of choice, offering models packed to the rafters with stuff or the barest of minimalist interiors. I really like the look of this one inside and out; it feels so much bigger than its 276 square feet and it has a loft I could live with. I can’t wait to see what they do by their Escape Ten.