BIG little house: Small Houses Designed by Architects, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

BIG little house

Small Houses Designed by Architects, 1st Edition

By Donna Kacmar


190 pages

Look Inside
Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781138024205
pub: 2015-02-11
Hardback: 9781138024199
pub: 2015-02-11
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315775937
pub: 2015-01-09
from $26.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


What are the challenges architects face when designing dwelling spaces of a limited size? And what can these projects tell us about architecture – and architectural principles – in general?

In BIG little house, award-winning architect Donna Kacmar introduces twenty real-life examples of small houses. Each project is under 1,000 square feet (100 square meters) in size and, brought together, the designs reveal an attitude towards materiality, light, enclosure and accommodation which is unique to minimal dwellings. While part of a trend to address growing concerns about minimising consumption and lack of affordable housing, the book demonstrates that small dwellings are not always simply the result of budget constraints but constitute a deliberate design strategy in their own right.

Highly illustrated and in full-colour throughout, each example is based on interviews with the original architect and accompanied by detailed floor plans. This ground-breaking, beautifully designed text offers practical guidance to any professional architect or homeowner interested in small scale projects.


'When it comes to houses, quality, not quantity, is what truly matters. Architect Donna Kacmar’s eloquently written and beautifully illustrated BIG little house underscores this point again and again. The book’s comprehensive introduction coupled with twenty, carefully curated, examples answer not just "What" but also "How" and "Why". BIG little house is a valuable resource for architects and clients alike.' - Naomi Pollock, AIA, author Modern Japanese House, Japan

'A rigorous examination of the history of the small house is presented in both sumptuous photography and in floor plans at comparative scales, which are both useful and very revealing. Common to all of the houses is an attention to the importance of detail in small spaces, the importance of opening to the exterior to borrow space from the landscape, and the belief in quality over quantity, an idea that should guide all residential design in an era of diminishing resources.' - Mark McInturff, FAIA, architect, McInturff Architects, USA

‘This is a book I can read again and again, both for inspiration and admiration. For anyone exploring a small home lifestyle this is your all in one reference book. In Kacmar’s words, it’s time to "slow down and absorb a quiet architecture".’ – Jenny Tranter, State of Green

'Plenty of gorgeous photos stoke serious house envy and the rigorous analysis grounded in the philosophical underpinnings of what it means to "dwell" and how architects and theorists have explored this concept sets the book apart from a Tumblr. Kacmar is a professor at the University of Houston so it's no wonder she takes an academic approach. She argues that the economy of small spaces allows for a deeper, undiluted understanding of an architect's sensibility.' - Diana Budds,

'With photographs, floor plans, and information from the architects, Kacmar demonstrates that small dwellings are not always dollhouse-size knockoffs of larger ones. When thoughtfully designed, they are painstakingly integrated into their surroundings; deeply reflective of the priorities of the people who live in them; and compelled to address issues of space, light, and form in highly specific ways. Small structures, she writes, are not necessarily simple nor cheap. Building small can be a deliberate design strategy in its own right.' - Kristin Hohenadel, Slate

'Donna touches on a number of different factors influencing the rise in popularity of the small home. Affordability and changing lifestyles are of course major factors, as is the desire for a reduction lifestyle in contrast to a consumption-fuelled lifestyle. There is significant architectural power in the small house, which is not to be overlooked or dismissed.' – Holly Cunneen, Grand Designs Australia

Table of Contents

Foreword by Carlos Jimenez. Preface. Acknowledgements. Introduction. Timeline. Variant ONE: Porous Dwellings 01. Watershed 02. Music Box 03. False Bay Writers Cabin 04. Ravine Guest House 05. Writer's Studio 06. Hill Country Jacal 07. Kemper Cabin Variant TWO: Focused Dwellings 08. Marfa 10x10 09. Keenan Tower House 10. Sky Ranch 11. Scholars Library 12. Roland Cabin 13. Small House in an Olive Grove 14. Stacked Cabin Variant THREE: Protected Dwellings 15. Williams Cabin 16. Craven Road Studio 17. Pool House 18. Blossom Street 03 19. Nested House 20. Envelope House List of Work Index

About the Author

Donna Kacmar is a practicing architect and an Associate Professor at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston, USA, where she teaches Comprehensive Design Studio and directs the Materials Research Collaborative.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Residential
ARCHITECTURE / Design, Drafting, Drawing & Presentation
ARCHITECTURE / Methods & Materials
ARCHITECTURE / Urban & Land Use Planning
ARCHITECTURE / Professional Practice
ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / General