BOOK Cabin Fever
Living small has never been so big. In 2013, New York City held its adapt NYC competition for micro apartments, and residents began to move into the city’s first legal tiny living spaces last year. Reality TV shows document people who pursue the tiny-home lifestyle, and any number of coffee-table books are devoted to cabins in the woods or on the seashore.
Much of this can be attributed to a quest for simplification, argues Urs Peter Flueckiger, author of the book How Much House? Thoreau, Le Corbusier and the Sustainable Cabin (Birkhäuser, 2016). In our complex, connected urban lives, “a cabin often represents an imaginary space,” he writes in his introductory essay to the book, “a location where things become clear and manageable again because the daily routines are no longer dominated by information overload.”
Between 2008 and 2010, Flueckiger and his architecture students at Texas Tech University set out to build their own low-cost, sustainable tiny dwelling in a West Texas pasture outside the town of Crowell. Their inspiration was twofold. The first model was Henry David Thoreau’s legendary cabin near Walden Pond in Massachusetts, built between 1845 and 1847. The other was Le Corbusier’s Cabanon, completed in 1952 on the French Riviera.
How Much House? provides fascinating individual historical accounts of both projects,