From a very early age, I dreamed of being an architect. I looked up at the towering skyscrapers around me and dreamed of one day constructing one. Buildings appeared large and full of stuff back then.
When I became a student of architecture, I learned to appreciate the stuff inside buildings – the stuff we fill in the empty spaces where we reside. It’s the stuff that gives meaning to life. Yet, I didn’t want to fill up my space with a lot of it.
I believed in minimalism. While others wanted a lot, I only wanted very little in the way of my space.
I envisioned getting my first apartment after college. The small room would be an empty white with nothing in it, not even a picture frame on the wall. A bed was all I needed I thought. A perfect fit for a bachelor.
Many years later, I moved in with my wife. She lived in a small studio of around 300 square feet. It had just enough space for a bed, couch and coffee table. We lived in it for three years! We ate on the floor, walked all over each other and went to bed at the same time. It was quite romantic.
I continue to be fascinated by the minimum amount of space a person can possibly live in. It means living with the essentials of life taught by nature surrounding us. It gives me the sense of being well connected to the objects around me. I feel united with them in the spirit of dwelling.
Now it’s time to minimize one’s ecological footprint in an age that demands self-supporting qualities for living.
Today, I dream of living in a simple little house – a minimized spatial environment to live a low-impact lifestyle. My goal is to create a place to connect back to the natural world. A place I can call home to support both my personal and planetary health.
As an architect, I design and make plans for the construction of an object or system such as the house. At the highest level of design, the house is made to regenerate and nurture the natural world. Its inhabitants live in security and freedom.
A little house can achieve the highest levels of design by offering more efficiency and conservation. I’m not talking about economic efficiency in so far as buying less for a smaller house. I am talking about the benefits of energy efficiency in a self-sufficient system tightly wrapped in a little box.
Besides minimizing the area footprint, my little home would be equipped with various technical installations that are necessary to guarantee its self-sufficiency. Freedom means being independent from the local infrastructure.
To live in freedom, you’ll need at least three things… photovoltaic cells and solar modules, a rainwater tank, and a biological toilet.
The sun is an unlimited commodity.
My little home would supply its own power through the sun. Solar energy has many benefits.
It’s 100 percent free after the initial installation and maintenance costs.
It avoids greenhouse gases that fossil fuels produce. The energy is produced by conducting the sun’s radiation, which is a process void of any smoke or chemical by-product.
With solar energy, we can stop the destruction of ecosystems and save our livelihood. Remember the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? I wanted to forget that too.
It offers the potential for a complete decentralized system. This means that you and your neighbors can be self-reliant in a society showing signs of imploding. Ever been in a black-out? You can get off the grid before the system crashes… again.
Solar energy avoids having to deal with price volatility in the fossil fuel markets. The price of fossil fuels has increased while the per watt price of solar energy production has decreased. Its technology is improving.
Finally if we all had solar panels on our roofs, we could avoid wars fought over oil fields. We would be able to erode control by monopolies of our high-demand raw materials. A competitive energy market is thus created where control then belongs to us.
Water is the most important resource we have in order to live.
My little home would collect rainwater in a tank. The rainwater would be cleaned and reused. Its purpose would be to resolve any water storage issues we may have in the future.
Using it will give you the option to collect and distill your own water for drinking. Some of us may not like tap water because of the chemicals it may contain coming from the local supply. Others may not want to pay for bottled water.
A rainwater tank can help avoid wasting water for non-essential activities. You can water the lawn, clean your car and fill the pool with water from it.
Saving and storing water for the future is important against natural calamities or man-made events that can disrupt the flow of water. A drought can happen and we can be without the one thing that sustains life.
Just as with saving money from the sun, you can save money on water. We live in a time when a global crisis can occur at any moment. The cost of water may rise in these times.
As the population continues to grow so will our thirst for more water.
My little home would have a biological toilet. This type of toilet is a closed unit that is not connected to the sewage system. The benefits are similar to those outlined above.
Because it is not connected to the main sewage system, it saves water and avoids the release of sewage into the environment.
It recycles much of your household waste such as your food scraps and paper. It is chemical free and produces a nutrient rich by-product which can be used to condition soil for plants and trees.
As you can see, my little home would be equipped with everything I would need for simple living.
I want the unnecessary things in my life to go away.
I don’t want to fight wars over oil anymore. I don’t want to be enslaved by some entity which has control over my natural resources. I don’t want waste in my life and I want that to disappear.
I want to live deliberately with nature and not live against it.
To achieve some form of higher living, you will want to do that too.