Flex House: Prefabricating the Tiny House Movement

by Kathryn Schenk

Institution: University of Cincinnati
Year: 2015
Keywords: Architecture; Tiny House Movement; Prefabrication; Modular Design
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2130110
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=ucin1428652984


With the growing trend of the Tiny House Movement in the United States, more people are bucking the tradition of large homes and choosing to build their own smaller dwellings. As a result of these inexperienced builders, many tiny homes in existence today are too uncomfortable or unattractive to the general public, preventing the Tiny House Movement from progressing beyond its counterculture roots. Tiny houses provide a solution to a number of growing issues including sustainability, urban density, affordable housing and wastefulness, but the stigma associated with the movement results in a missed opportunity in the US. The inherent scale of tiny houses makes them a prime opportunity for prefabrication, modular design and mass production, which can greatly reduce costs and widen accessibility to a larger market. This thesis will investigate the role of prefabrication and modular design in the production of tiny houses, through the development of a modular building system. This system will then be tested at full scale in the construction of a caretaker’s cottage on the Kamama Prairie in Adams County, Ohio. This research will be accomplished through investigations of prefabrication and mass customization techniques introduced by Kieran Timberlake in Refabricating Architecture, the work of architecture firms specializing in tiny house design such as Four Lights Tiny House Company, the urban tiny homes at Boneyard Studios on Washington, DC and other owner-built tiny homes. This work will also delve into integrated design, sustainable practices, “furnitecture” (furniture that creates and defines space), prefabrication, and modular construction techniques.This thesis aims to identify techniques and methods utilized by these sources and apply them to the improved production of tiny homes. Ultimately, this modular building system may be utilized to gain a wider audience of potential tiny house dwellers and better address the ecological, financial and social benefits of the Tiny House Movement. Advisors/Committee Members: McInturf, Michael (Committee Chair).