This is not the England part 2 post, though it is not totally unrelated to England, given that people there generally live in much smaller spaces than we do in America (though that is a matter of necessity and not choice, which might make all the difference).
Scaling down seems to be a big theme these days. As you might already know, the new issue of ReadyMade is out and its theme is small space living. And earlier this week I read a post about tiny houses over at Shelterrific, and it got me surfing around and winding up at the website of Alchemy Architects, which is practically in my backyard, and which designs the weeHouse.
I'd read about the similar Tumbleweed Tiny House (pictured) before and was totally intrigued: they are seriously tiny, but you can build them yourself for about 12 grand (or have them built and delivered for 25K more) and then keep your impact on the environment seriously tiny as well. But I think I like Alchemy's weeHouses even better (all the more because they are a local product).
A few weeHouses were profiled in this New York Times article about living very small--including the house of a violinist I worked with several years ago. (Incidentally, there's an ad for 1.5 million dollar hotel condos on the same NYT page. Ha ha.) More photos of her weeHouse are here.
Overwhelmingly these tiny houses seem to be built in locations where the natural world takes center stage and provides the feeling of vast space--that elbow room that Americans like so much. You have to wonder how these structures would do in more urban locations: imagine a 240 square foot house on a city lot with neighbors very nearby. I don't know that tiny houses are the solution to urban housing shortages, but I do love the idea that a customized home designed by an architect for maximum beauty and efficiency can be well within reach for someone who isn't loaded. And I also love the idea that a dream house doesn't have to be a 4000 square foot castle that consumes a ton of resources, has to be filled with a ton of stuff, and costs a ton of money.
I ain't no minimalist--I do love my stuff--but I am kind of obsessed with these sleek little dwellings.