A few years ago, Swedish student housing company AF Bostäder stuck a young woman from the city of Lund inside a tiny house-box--not even 10 meters squared.

It was to test the idea of a cheap, cheerful and environmentally friendly “smart student unit" that included a toilet, kitchen, and bed.

"I think she still lives there,” says Linda Camara of Tengbom Architects, the company behind the 2013 iteration of the living pod--a petite vision in pale wood offset with lime green plant pots, cushions, and stools.

The premise for the cube, which has been in the works since 2007, is reasonable enough: students live and die on cheap housing, but everyone needs a toilet.

It’s taken six years to whittle the tiny houses down to the current cross-laminated wooden test model form.

The current space-efficient design, complete with a patio and vaulted sleeping area, lowers standard rent rates by 50%--music to the ears of any economically bereft twentysomething.

Swedish housing regulations require student apartments to cover a minimum of 25 square meters, but Tengbom’s cubes, designed for students at the University of Lund, are the first known exception.

“We have a huge lack of student units in Sweden,” says Camara. “Social sustainability is to get more cost-efficient buildings fast and with high quality.”

The units are built with cross-laminated wood sourced from Martinsons, a local manufacturer.

The small surface area of each unit, combined with minimal transportation costs for local renewable construction materials, drives down the units’ carbon footprint.

And students won’t be freezing their socks off. “To endure the Swedish winter we need to insulate them,” says Camara. “Cross laminated wood is enough for other types of houses or in warmer climate, and the final version must last for 100 years at least.”

Each cube arrives on site as an Ikea-style flat pack--the test model took less than a week to put together.

Camara and the team at Tengbom will roll out a mini village in 2014 with an initial test run of 22 units arranged in blocks of eight.

2013-09-17

Co.Exist

These Tiny Wooden Houses Are The College Dorm Of The Future

Housing is expensive. So why not have students live in cubes they can afford? That's the idea behind the “smart student unit."

A few years ago, Swedish student housing company AF Bostäder had a young woman from the city of Lund inside live in a tiny house-box—not even 10 square meters large—to test the idea of a cheap, cheerful, and environmentally friendly “smart student unit" that included a toilet, kitchen, and bed. “I think she still lives there,” says Linda Camara of Tengbom Architects, the company behind the 2013 iteration of the living pod—a petite vision in pale wood offset with lime green plant pots, cushions and stools.

The premise for the cube, which has been in the works since 2007, is reasonable enough: students live and die on cheap housing, but everyone needs a toilet. It’s taken six years to whittle the tiny houses down to the current cross-laminated wooden test model form. The large kitchen was squirreled away in the original blueprint, but Tengbom redesigned it as the prime area after student feedback. The current space-efficient design, complete with a patio and vaulted sleeping area, lowers standard rent rates by 50%—music to the ears of any economically bereft twentysomething.

Swedish housing regulations require student apartments to cover a minimum of 25 square meters, but Tengbom’s cubes, designed for students at the University of Lund, are the first known exception. “We have a huge lack of student units in Sweden,” says Camara. “Social sustainability is to get more cost-efficient buildings fast and with high quality.”

The units are built with locally sourced wood. The small surface area of each unit, combined with minimal transportation costs for local renewable construction materials, drives down the units’ carbon footprint. And students won’t be freezing their socks off. “To endure the Swedish winter, we need to insulate them,” says Camara. “Cross laminated wood is enough for other types of houses or in warmer climate, and the final version must last for 100 years at least.” Each cube arrives on site as an Ikea-style flat pack—the test model took less than a week to put together.

What if instead of a tiny wooden house, you lived in this amazing sustainable dorm in Denmark where every room has french windows?

Camara and the team at Tengbom will roll out a mini village in 2014, with an initial test run of 22 units arranged in blocks of eight. She’s thinking of ways to develop the project so tiny towns pop up on university campuses across Sweden, although Camara can’t promise that every unit will come with the swish green hammock hanging from the kitchen’s pseudo-ceiling in the prototype. “The design you see here is like a concept car,” she says. “This is the dream version—and we will fight to make it real.”

The current smart student unit prototype is available for viewing until December 8 at The Virserum Museum in Sweden. For the Swedish students holding keys to the inaugural cube rollout, pooping, eating, and sleeping like a high-functioning hamster could be the new definition of the good life.

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15 Comments

  • Barry

    I have an idea... Put wheels on it! I'm calling my invention "the caravan". I'm sure Ikea already sell these.

  • MikeM_inMD

    I see the following issues:
    1. Not handicap accessible.
    2. Where to store clothing.
    3. Can't entertain more than two people at a time.
    4. Too monochromatic with all that blond wood in all directions.

  • waraji

    I think you mean "wheelchair accessible". (There are many people with "handicaps" not requiring wheelchairs)
    Are tiny travel-trailers wheelchair accessible? There are a few things that are not.

  • MikeM_inMD

    No, travel trailers are not usually wheelchair accessible, but they aren't subject to "public access" type of laws, like a newly built dormitory would be.

  • Carlasimoto

    What if there is a fire? That looks like it would go up in flames in no time. 

  • Guest

    i didnt get to see the closet, the bathroom size (the shower), the place for a TV and a cooking area. Idea so far is ok, but needs a lot of work

  • Ayesha Saeed Haq

    i didnt see any closet, didnt get to see the bathroom size. this doesnt seem practical to me atleast. 

  • LostInUnderland

    I am not sure why these houses would only reduce rent by 50%.  They are less than half the space, and do not look terribly expensive, so why are they half the price of an overpriced dorm?

  • Jussimir Pasold

    Looks really good but how about the production process? If it is really straight forward like the design seems to be then we have a great product - The futuro would see much more brighter if the refugee camps and the favelas of the future looked like this. The student room made from shipping containers is also a very interesting project http://freshome.com/2010/10/01...

  • dinska

    It just goes to show that you can make anything look attractive when you make it out of blonde wood.

  • Livin_Large

    Very cool. Lots of applications. Just for starters, ee have 2 million new refugees just in Syria and these might stand up well to temperature extremes, seismic events, etc. 

    I'd love to see more - is there a floor plan? Is it modular? Is it available for licensing or purchase?