Tiny House From New Zealand Is Actually Almost Tiny

Rectangular tiny house with open doors
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After years of tiny house bloat, it is nice to see a minimalist design that gets back to the essentials.

When you look back at the history of tiny houses, they were.... tiny. They could fit in a parking space. Then we got tiny house bloat, where they got longer, higher and heavier, squeezing in full-sized appliances and multiple lofts and weren't really very tiny at all.

Build Tiny camper floor plan drawing
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That's why I was so intrigued by this design from Build Tiny, a New Zealand company. It's only 5 meters (~16'-5") long, and weighs only 2838 kg (~6250 lbs). It doesn't have any lofts so it's only 3.5 m (11'-6") high. This would be easy to move and could be towed behind almost anything.

A Simple Design

Interior of unit showing white kitchen counter and a bench seat in the background
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What it does have is everything you really need to live comfortably with, although the designers say, "You'll need the mindset of a minimalist to live in this home full-time." But then, that's what tiny house living was about. When Jay Shafer pretty much invented the Tiny House 20 years ago, he called this kind of thinking "subtractive design": getting rid of everything that isn't truly essential.

Kitchen view showing counter, sink, and cabinets, with a door and chest of drawers adjacent
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© Build Tiny/ Kitchen

And this tiny house has all of the essentials. The kitchen has a two-burner cooktop, which is all most people need, a little dishwasher and a little fridge. This is becoming almost standard in apartments twice or three times the size of this tiny home.

Bathroom view with shower stall on the left, toilet in the center, and sink on the right
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The bathroom has a composting toilet and a separate comfortably sized stall shower.

A Retractible Bed

Fold-out bed in down position
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But the killer app that makes this really work (and makes it expensive) is the cantilevered counterweighted bed that drops down from the ceiling. It comes down low enough that one can climb in easily, it has a great view through the window, and you don't fry or bang your head in a silly loft.

It's an approach that many in Europe take with Clei beds, (or Resource Furniture in North America) where real estate is so expensive and apartments so small that expensive transformer furniture makes sense; it is cheaper than another room.

Interior view showing bunkbeds
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You could do without the magic bed and just use the convertible sofa that is also there (and probably save a lot of money), but that is more work and less comfort. It is shown below the cantilevered bed in bunk setup.

Build Tiny exterior of unit
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I also like the minimalist, maintenance-free steel exterior, basic and straightforward.

Two men standing amid steel framing in unit under construction
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With its fancy steel frame and cantilevered bed, this is not exactly getting back to the cheap and cheerful roots of the tiny house movement. But it gets the basics right: keep it small, keep it easy to move, provide everything you need to live in a small, efficient space. A fine example of "subtractive design."