Text by M.P. Klier
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For those who cringe when HGTV house hunters gripe that a McMansion's racquetball-court-size closet is too small to fit all their shoes and its two-and-a-half-car garage is cramped, the 42 dwellings detailed in Phyllis Richardson's Nano House: Innovations for Small Dwellings (Thames and Hudson, 2011) offer another way home.
Richardson—the author of the XS series on small buildings and the Archetcetera blog—shows us "structures that demonstrate a resounding appreciation for space, resources, and materials through their effective use on a small scale." In Nano House, "small scale" means an interior space of less than 807 square feet, though more than half of the designs are under 500 square feet.
FabLab House (635 square feet)
Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia and the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms
From certain angles the FabLab House is reminiscent of a covered wagon, but its shape is more accurately described as a "distorted paraboloid," which milks the most living space and solar-energy production from a lightweight design. The airy great room has living, dining (a table for eight!), sleeping, and office areas—and there's even a peep-through kitchen (shown above the potted plants in the left photo) and an upstairs sleeping loft.
The all-timber, highly clever building has a shaded outdoor area and natural ventilation, thanks to its perch atop three "legs," which hold the utilities. The FabLab House was built for the 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe—and not surprisingly, it won the People's Choice Award. You can order your own FabLab for about $60,000 (tax not included).