BIG little house : Small Houses Designed by Architects book cover
1st Edition

BIG little house
Small Houses Designed by Architects

ISBN 9781138024205
Published February 19, 2015 by Routledge
208 Pages

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Book Description

 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.

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

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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.


'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