While on a fishing trip in rural Finland during school break, two students were inspired by the beauty and serenity around. The idea of building a nature retreat took hold and later that evening they started making plans to turn their idea into reality into what turned into an Eco-Friendly Tiny House!
Timm Bergmann, studying architecture and Jonas Becker, studying urban design, put their heads together and designed a 280 square-foot inspiring minimalist eco-friendly tiny house cabin of 280-square-foot. Their aim was to respect the natural environment every step of the way.
“We wanted to test our knowledge of the first years in university and thought it would be a great chance,” Bergmann and Becker, told Dwell.
Not far from Bergmann’s grandparents’ farm, they found an untouched lakeside site to lease with a forest opening into a glade which meant no trees would harmed. The pair would, however, have to come up with innovative solutions to the lack of electricity, running water and road access
“We got inspired by various other architecture projects which treated the surrounding nature in a gentle way,” the duo told TreeHugger. “For us the nature, landscape, or simply the outside of the house is the most important thing.”
“It is a very special place between two different kinds of forests of pine and birch trees. So our first mission in designing the house was to keep as much trees and wildlife as possible,” they explained.
Since they needed to get supplies to the sight, access was the first hurdle to overcome. Their solution was a 650 foot long elevated path to the nearest road.
To achieve this, they filled steel pipes with concrete and anchored them into the bedrock as the foundation and added wooden planks across the pipes to walk over the swampy area. Part of their vision included that, should the cabin ever be removed, no sign of its existence should remain which meant a traditional concrete foundation was out of the question.
To avoid damage to the environment, they constructed the 17 frames from local wood at Bergmann’s grandparents’ farm, then carried each them across the walkway to the site. The structure is covered with 18mm pine plywood sheets and insulated with local recycled newspaper. Before starting the build however, they placed their recycled furniture in position and then built the house to fit around it.
“Wood was and is the perfect material for us to fulfill our requirements for building environmentally friendly,” they said. They also applied for and received building permission and approval, and it meets fire regulations.
The beauty and serenity of the surroundings is reflected in the simplicity and flexibility of the home, which has everything one could wish for; a kitchen, a bedroom, a sauna and a composting toilet in an outhouse.
“This motto we kept in mind when we started the concept of the house. What do we really need to be happy? For example, do we really need to have two big separate rooms for eating and relaxing or can it be one combined in the kitchen? In the end we came up with a design of four rooms on less than 26 square meters [280 square feet] which offers a comfortable feeling as it would have been 40 square meters,” they told TreeHugger.
“We wanted to show that a house does not have to be big,” said Bergmann. “Building something beautiful does not have to be expensive,” Becker added.
All in, the house cost $13,449 with timber and the double glazed windows accounting for most of it, while not installing running water and electricity kept the price down. The Werkstattofen wood stove is all that’s needed to keep the cabin warm in winter.
Eco-Friendly Tiny House Floor Plans
The success of building their house inspired them to start a design firm, Studio Politaire.
“We think that especially in the building sector, which is one of the highest carbon-oxygen producer in the world, it is really important to switch to more environmentally friendly materials. The trend of the last century to mainly use steel and concrete must come to an end to lower the global carbon emissions. Architects and Engineers must feel more responsible with this issue.”
Although living without electricity and running water may not appeal to everyone, of which Bergmann and Becker said: “People need to start questioning themselves in eco-sufficiency,” they told us. “It is not the best way to save carbon emissions by buying a new car with a more efficient combustion engine, or to buy an electric car – the best way is to use your bicycle or feet.”
“We think questioning our own needs and defining what is luxury for us didn’t make the cabin less satisfying,” they told us. “It made it even better.”
No doubt Tapio, Finnish God of Nature, is nodding in approval of the mindfulness these two designers have put into their build.