Circular Tiny House CTH*1 / Faculty Design / University of Coburg Germany
Text description provided by the architects. How to build sustainability? A very current question – which moves many people, as well as the Master students of the course “DESIGN and DO sustainably” guided by Prof. Dr. Rainer Hirth at the Coburg University of Applied Sciences and Arts. The project started with a number of seminars on issues arising from the construction sector. According to a 2020 UN report, the construction sector is responsible for 38% of all CO2 emissions worldwide; for immense and ever-increasing resource consumption, and, for example, in Germany for around 55% of all waste. The ever-increasing demand for living space per inhabitant – the average is currently 48 m² in Germany – cancels out any progress in terms of sustainability by rebound effect. And is everything correct what we calculate in terms of power consumption etc. ?
The idea therefore came to build an “alternative” research building and to follow the performance “in reality” with one or two inhabitants over a period of five years. The goal became an experimental building based on the cradle-to-cradle principle, CO2 neutral, not connected to sand, powered solely by solar energy and made exclusively from reused and renewable materials only. The project began with an urban planning analysis – it quickly became apparent that Tiny Houses only made sense for densification in city centers on abandoned plots, on top of buildings or in car parks.
Under no circumstances should they consume new land on the outskirts. The built prototype occupies a parking lot and is therefore also a statement of less car traffic. What is a Tiny House? What do we need to live with an acceptable level of comfort? A question of definition. The self-defining hypothesis – a bed for two, a wardrobe, a laptop workspace, a micro-bathroom and an optimized small kitchen in a light, open and architecturally sophisticated building. And surely a sofa to relax and “intelligent” and modular furniture to accommodate at least four guests.
The research building has a usable area of 19 m² on two levels. And it had to be durable, inexpensive, and easy to build and dismantle – cradle-to-cradle. The Circular Tiny House CTH*1 team has completely avoided CO2-emitting mineral building materials/binders such as lime-rendered concrete, etc. It is almost exclusively made from renewable materials such as straw, wood and clay. All construction materials were sourced from the surrounding area: the wood slightly damaged the bark beetle – still strong but no longer meeting high visual standards. And clay, chalk and repurposed building elements like windows from nearby demolished buildings.
The application of the cradle to cradle principle was also specified, no nails or glue were used. The building can be completely disassembled with a battery-powered screwdriver after the five-year monitoring period. There will be no demolition hammer or bin under which the straw and clay will be buried by the supplier. Wood, windows, doors, etc. will return to the building sector.
The CTH’1 on campus will be used as a Faculty of Design guest apartment with a half-yearly period of use from March 15 to December 1 – fully self-sufficient for 10.5 months by roof-integrated photovoltaic modules and a large pile. Rainwater will be collected, purified and used for all purposes. These hypotheses will be checked and verified scientifically over a period of five years.