This tiny home in Rosebrook, VIC is one of the best I’ve ever seen.
And as someone who was enamoured with the Never Too Small YouTube channel during last year’s lockdown, that’s saying something. Whether you think of the tiny house trend are being a flash in the pan or a veritable path forward for sustainable architecture, it doesn’t really matter—just watch this video and try find something you don’t like.
Designed by Small Not Tiny, ‘The Brook’ is a fully off-grid and transportable house that uses recycled materials and has some incredible design features that help to make the 9-metre x 3.3-metre house feel like a legitimate dwelling. As designer and carpenter team Aaron Shields and Nick Lane mention in the video, this kind of design is intended to ‘shift the attitude towards living within your means’. ‘As we evolve as a community, we are going to understand that bigger is not better,’ says Shields. ‘A small space, not only is it better for the environment, it’s also better for human interaction and your interaction with the outdoors.’ We could all take a leaf out of The Brook’s sustainable design—here’s some of its best features.
Expandable roof for maximum space
This is the best design feature of the house. As they mention in the video, Australian road restrictions prevent you from transporting a home that is over 5 metres tall—so, they’ve added an expandable roof section. The way that the telescopic frame works is the wall panels fold in on themselves and the roof can be expanded by operating a wheel that winds a cog system, which pushes the whole roof section up to create this incredible raised mezzanine. Genius stuff.
What’s even better is the ladder that runs to the mezzanine can be wound up using the same mechanism, meaning that you can get the ladder out of the way to create more space on the ground level, but most importantly, confine someone to the upstairs area without a ladder whenever they start to piss you off. It is a small house, after all. Tiny homes do have the tendency to feel claustrophobic, but with the expandable roof it takes the place from 30 square metres to 40 square metres, and the vaulted ceiling gives the illusion of way more space.
Recycled and sustainable materials
We must, must, must start making new things out of the stuff we already have, and The Brook is a perfect example of how well it can be done. Instead of buying straight from the factory, they sourced materials from surrounding farmland to create some really beautiful design elements. The most noticeable is the Cyprus cladding on the exterior of the house; a kind of tree that is used for windbreaks on local farmland and is usually burnt once it’s served its purpose.
Instead, they milled the timber to use for the house and now only does it look good, it prevented a lot of carbon from being spewed out into the ozone layer. Elsewhere in the house, they’ve used concrete slabs found in a paddock (and used for holding up cow troughs) to make a floating staircase, metal mesh from an abandoned pig shed for flooring and shelving, really beautiful blue stone cobble offcuts from a factory for tiling in the bathroom, and recycled brass.
Passive design for minimal impact
You might’ve heard the term ‘passive design’ pop up more in recent years. When it comes to architecture, it essentially means taking advantage of natural sources of heating and cooling (the sun, cool breezes) through design, therefore eliminating the need for air-con, heaters, etc. The Brook was designed to be a passive house, making use of solar heating but also carefully considered design to maintain a good temp. Louvres throughout the house not only give you a good view of the farmland outside, but also cross ventilation for cool summer breezes. The pivot doors are one of the best examples of designing for ideal ventilation, as they open the house right up (and look good too).