Tiny Housing Fills Redundant Parking Spaces

This Finnish idea could help ease the heavy demand for housing in cities. It has a tiny footprint, that of one parking space, making it easy to fit in almost anywhere. Let’s give up cars, and build homes for people who need them.

The prototype of Tikku (Finnish for ‘stick’) was built for Helsinki Design Week. Its footprint is tiny, only slightly larger than 8 feet by 16 feet. With its three stories, architect Marco Casagrande, head of Casagrande Laboratory, says it has enough room to make it a comfortable place to live or work.

Casagrande is building the concept of Tikku around the idea of stacking, which is made possible by working with cross-laminated timber, made from sustainably managed forest wood. This strong engineered wood enables the stacking of multiple stories on a small plot of land. Casagrande says “this could not be done with concrete. It would become too heavy, and it would sink.” By using this cross-laminated timber, the need for a foundation is eliminated as well as a sandbox on which the structure is situated provides balance.

The prototype in Helsinki’s central Keskuskatu street

When clustered together, multiple houses could provide support to each other, enabling higher stacks. Obviously, Tikku are easy to construct. “It’s almost ridiculous. Usually, building a house is really a pain in the ass, and it takes so much effort. In this case, it just popped up.” The entire house can be built overnight, as was the prototype in Helsinki.

The prototype is not ideal. It doesn’t have a kitchen or running water as Casagrande reasons that its resident could get food elsewhere and shower at the gym. “Modern man has to die a bit in order to be reborn,” is how the architects approach these inconveniences. However, electricity is provided via solar panels, and the cross-laminated timer provides enough isolation for winter weather. A connection to the grid is therefore not needed. The architects are working on designs that do enable running water.

The prototype’s greenhouse with plants from Plantagen and ground floor interior with BoConcept furniture

Casagrande hopes that a shift to self-driving Ubers and Lyfts will gradually replace car ownership, leading to an increase in vacant parking spaces, making room for Tikku to become a success. He envisions filling empty parking lots with homes. “Out of these Tikkus I could build 10,000 homes behind any Ikea,” he says. “Or if you have parking spots on top of your supermarket, these things are so light, you can easily build a city there.” Casagrande realizes that it will be somewhat of a challenge implementing Tikku across cities, but he keeps his hopes high.

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