Making The Most of Micro Homes

Sixty-four square feet isn’t much. But when that space has a roof, walls, a door, and a lock, it’s a big step up for someone living on the street. It’s also the square footage of the micro-homes on display on Granville Island until November 14, as part of the design project undertaken by industrial design students from Emily Carr University and students from the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Advanced Wood Processing program.

Called Homes For Less, the project required the students to come up with compact living spaces that could be built for under $1500. Recycled materials are used, as well as pine-beetle wood for the frames of the structures. Four units are on display, each one showing some creative solutions to the challenge of living in a space smaller than the bathroom of your average McMansion. The compact living environments are designed to be built on-site, can be assembled using simple tools, and utilize an innovative screw-in foundation. Small clusters of these compact living spaces would be put on unused government land, with residents sharing a communal bathroom and kitchen.

With a recent Supreme Court ruling in Victoria giving the homeless some protection from vagrancy laws and Victoria council just as quickly coming up with stop-gap bylaws to prevent tent cities in their parks, we clearly need to do more than fight in the courts over a person’s right to protect themselves from the elements. Solutions such as Homes For Less may not be the ultimate answer to homelessness, but it’s a creative solution worth trying. Not only could these small spaces serve the homeless, they could also make ideal summer cabins, home offices, or individual living spaces for intentional communities. It’s easy to imagine a savvy entrepreneur, turning these designs into a profitable, eco-friendly niche market. If a commercial market for micro-houses could help finance initiatives (perhaps through royalties or licensing fees) to give homeless individuals an option more palatable than tents in parks, or dangerous, crowded shelters, the students behind this project will have clearly demonstrated the truth inherent in the most-time honoured principle of design. Less is more. In this case, more homes and less needless suffering.


  1. Walter H. Barrett | |

    Hi Chris
    Thanks for the great article. We have gone into the micro home business here in Rhode Island. Our smallest model is a two level 8′ x 8′ model with a full sleeping loft giving it a total area of 128 sq feet.
    We have a video record of the construction on YouTube at: and on our blog ” The next Billionaires Will Be Green by Walt Barrett” We intend to mass produce micro homes if there is any serious public acceptance. Our home is designed to run entirely off the power grid. It is mostly solar powered with a propane back up costing about $200.00 a year. I hope you will view our video.
    Walt Barrett
    You Tube site “chinadepot”

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