The Future of College Dorms Lie in Tiny Wooden Houses

The Swedish student housing company AF Bostader had a young lady live in a tiny house-box a few years ago. The lady was from Lund, and lived in a house that was not even 10 square meters big to test the concept of a cheap, environmentally friendly and cheerful smart student unit which included a bed, kitchen and toilet.

Linda Camara of Tengbom Architects says that she in fact thinks the lady still lived there. Tengbom Architects is the company behind 2013’s iteration of a living pod which comprised of a pale wood offset with lime green stools, plant pots and cushions.

The cube premise, which has been in the works since 2007, is quite reasonable. While everyone needs a toilet, students still live and die on cheap housing. It was only after six years that the tiny houses were whittled down to the present cross-laminated wooden test model forms.

While the large kitchen as originally squirreled away in its blueprint, Tengbom redesigned it after student feedback proved it to be a prime area. The present design is space-efficient with a patio and vaulted sleeping area. Its rent is also 50% lower than standard rent rates, which sounds like music to any economically bereft young adult. While the city’s housing regulations stipulate that student apartments in Sweden have to cover at least 25 square meters, Tengbom’s cubes, which were designed for students at the University of Lund, are first exceptions. Camara states that they had a deficit of student units in Sweden. It was however possible to maintain social sustainability by quickly getting more cost-efficient and high quality buildings.

Locally sourced wood is used for building the units. The unit’s reduced surface area and the minimal transportation expenses for local renewable construction materials also help reduce the units’ carbon footprint. Moreover, students don’t end up freezing their socks off. Camara says that they need to insulate them to help them endure the Swedish winter. She also states that while cross laminated wood is enough for use in most houses or in warm climate, it is necessary that the final version lasted for at least 100 years. While it takes less than a week to put the test model together, each cube reached the site as an IKEA-style flat pack. Camara and her Tenghom team plan to roll out a mini village in 2014 wherein an initial test run will be done on 22 units, in blocks of eight.

Camara is trying to develop the project in such a way that tiny towns will emerge on university campuses throughout Sweden. However she cannot promise that each of these units will resemble the prototype in having a swish green hammock hanging from the kitchen’s pseudo-ceiling. She states that the design on display resembles a concept car or the dream version which they will fight to make real. At present, there is a smart student unit prototype on display at the Virserum Museum in Sweden until December.

The Swedish students who have keys to the starting cube rollout will give the new definition for good life as eating, sleeping and eating like a high-functional hamster.

*Image courtesy Flickr Creative Commons



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