A manufacturer of structurally insulated panels (SIPs) approached Architecture Office to design a housing unit. They asked us to design a unit that could be mass producible using SIPs, a building material constructed from an insulated foam core sandwiched between two boards. The design had to be able to be built on a 35 foot wide lot, cost as close to $100,000 as possible and meet the Passive House Standard—a leading international standard for energy efficient construction.
SmallHouse satisfies the client’s criteria without sacrificing intentionality. At a cost of $120,000 per base unit and manufacturable out of SIPs, this unit’s vaulted gable roof accommodates an open living area that includes a full kitchen with built-in cabinets. Sliding insulated glass doors maximize air circulation from either side of the living space. SmallHouse’s exterior is clad in corrugated metal and rot resistant wood. Canopies extends outwards from the front and back of the unit—articulating a “porch” and “patio” within modern typology of form.
Within SmallHouse, two subtracted volumes—an elevated loft bedroom and a dining room adjacent to the unit’s kitchen—communicate clarity and simplicity. Despite its 850 square foot footprint, these subtractions lend SmallHouse spaciousness. With a modest increase in square footage, SmallHouse can accommodate up to four bedrooms and two full bathrooms. Its 25 foot width allows it to be built on most city lots. The familiar gable roof form makes it a suitable option for public housing and replacing derelict city properties.