Nano House provides affordable shelter
I've written about living in small spaces before, but apparently I must have been either a cave dweller or resided in a tree house in a former life because the concept of living with less is a continuing source of fascination. My latest attraction in this area is the Nano House, the definitive less is more statement.
Nano, if you recall, is the name of the world's cheapest car priced at $2,500. This four passenger vehicle was the brain child of an Indian company called Tata Motors, a division of Tata Group, and was developed in 2009 for the Indian market. Now as an extension of its scaled down vehicle, the Tata Group is building scaled down prefabricated dwellings.
The smallest of the Nano dwellings is 20 square meters or 215 square feet priced at $3.34 per square foot or approximately $700. It comes in a flatpack kit including coconut or jute cladding with complete interior layouts. It also includes doors, windows and a roof and can be assembled in seven days. There are slightly larger versions at 30 square meters with extras like solar energy and verandahs with a life expectancy of 20 years for all the dwellings.
The objective of the company is to provide affordable shelter to poor populations around the world. Since it is an Indian company, it was natural for it to work with the local municipalities in India in developing its homes with the ultimate goal of marketing to state governments that require mass residential development for disadvantaged populations.
The Nano House is the subject of a new book called "Nano House Innovations for Small Dwellings," by Phyllis Richardson. In the book, Richardson talks about the need for sustainable, economical shelter that will preserve the landscape and built as light as possible, particularly in impoverished parts of the world. The combination of eco-materials and new prefabrication technologies has allowed architects and designers to produce small scale habitats that are more ecological, flexible and efficient, while still adhering to modern standards of style and comfort.
Some of these dwellings are just prototypes, but many are in actual use as pied a terres and vacation cottages. A 506 square foot home in the United States is modeled on the form of a grain silo with three cylinders, one for sleeping, one for eating and one for living. The bed is on a pulley system that can be drawn up into a ceiling box. Another in Belgium is 215 square feet and is being used as a guest house. The interior is a grid of boxes for storage and sleeping with many openings for light opening like an egg.
Although, the Nano Home is geared for mass housing in other countries is it possible that Americans could be ready to consider the potential of mini living on a wider scale? Since the most recent census indicates that the average new single-family house in this country is down to 2,392 square feet, are over sized Americans also ready for a change in living concepts?
For those who have additional interest in what Nano Homes actually look like, a quick internet search will provide some interesting pictures at both Tata Group's website and in Phyllis Richardson's book.
At the end of this year, the Nano car will start being exported around the world. Will the Nano homes also start to catch on in our geared down economy? We'll have to wait and see, but if it happens, Anna Maria Island could be the perfect place for both of Tata's innovations.