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    Micro Market: Townhalls about the Smallest of Houses

    Richard Rozewski
    Nov 5, '11 5:22 PM EST

    A few nights ago I was able to attend a town hall meeting put on by the group Designers Accord called Designing a Sustainable Cleveland.  Represented at the meeting, was the Northeast Ohio Chapter of ISDA, the AIGA Cleveland Chapter, students, and the general public.  The mission of the town hall was to start a discussion on how design can take the lead in creating positive environmental and social impact in the local community and beyond.


    My friend, colleague, Patrick from APOC was their keynote speaker.  He presented his new project that I will be working on with him that focuses on the idea in which he calls “Microtecture” or small space design.  Buildings that are roughly around 100 square feet that are meant to promote sustainable living practices as well as be easy to build and construct do to the nature of their scale. 

    (Image just a representation of scale and not exact: from

    Upon entering the town hall I realized that an truely open forum like this is something completely new.  Of course we have had various meetings that encourage design professionals to brainstorm together; we have had meetings that encourage students to brainstorm together, not to forget the design minded individuals that populate our city, they have a voice too but really no way of expressing that voice.  This townhall was a way of putting all of those people together in the same room.  How often does that happen?  Almost never; at least in Cleveland.  From the presenters I gathered that this sort of thing would be happening more regularly.


    I was able to meet people who were pursuing similar but not as radical, nontraditional, divergent, uncomphrensible, and unmarketable educational paths as I.  My narrative as an Art History, Environmental Studies major currently getting a Masters of Nonprofit Administration and eventual M.Arch, or something like that.  How do I even begin explaining this path to anyone?, yet the people I spoke to at this townhall who where both, professionals and students, old and young, active or bystanding, seemed to get it and not need much explaining. 

    Back to Patrick’s idea of small housing: this  is the current project that I am working on and I would like to start a running catalogue of thoughts, images, manifestations, and alterations.  We are currently starting plans and building a prototype of a building here in Cleveland that will either travel or be reconstructed for our client in Berkley, California.   

    (Image just a representation of scale and not exact: from


    • Stephanie

      It is a very nice small building project, but the idea that this will promote sustainable living is patently false.

      Buildings that are roughly around 100 square feet that are meant to promote sustainable living practices as well as be easy to build and construct do to the nature of their scale. 

      The building itself may use 'sustianable' practices, materials, and processes...

      But the construction, however small, of individual buildings for individual people, will always inherently mean the opposite of 'sustainable' in that they will require their own plot, their own access (most likely via vehicle) and their own utility hookups. Unless my eyes deceive me, none of that is addressed with this sexy little box.

      This is little more than a trailer. albeit a nice looking one, parked in the middle of nowhere.

      Small scale housing is what got us into the sprawl of suburbs to begin with.

      In light of this, I'm interested in how exactly smallness equates to sustainability?

      Nov 6, 11 5:54 am  · 

      false false false. microtecture can be very sustainable - and can also 'touch the earth lightly'. in fact, 'microtecture' will be a very feasible answer for hyper sustainable urban infill - when ganged together they also look a hell of a lot better than apodments.

      Nov 6, 11 5:54 pm  · 

      Sure, you could 'gang' these up together for an urban-infill approach... But my question would then be: why would someone choose to live in a 100 square foot box when they could live in an 800 square foot box for roughly the same amount of impact? 

      If 'apodments' are so detestable, it's only because someone has designed them that way. Shunning the entire typology is not appropriate. 

      These particular boxes do not look like they were designed for stacking, anyways, but more for horizontal sprawl. In which case.... I'm still not seeing how they differ from trailers.



      Nov 7, 11 9:17 am  · 

      Thanks for all of your thoughts on this project, we are starting with the request from the client to have an extremely small living space and based on their concept we are trying to incorporate elements of sustainability in the project.  

      At the same time we feel that the smaller the footprint, from logical level, the smaller the impact.  Having a background in Environmental Studies does not make me an expert in the matter; I feel that anyone can suggest that any new construction is inherently not sustainable and is something we have to live with when questioning preservation or new build (a whole other topic all together).

      Further thinking for us has produced the idea that the smaller the unit the more participatory the person would be in the environment that surrounds them and therefor spend less time in the home itself.  This will hopefully lead to better care of the environment around them; this is not ecotourism or ecobranded community, it's more of a cause and effect for us; we like ideas such as a renewal of community driven spaces, opposed to technologically driven interior spaces.

      We are currently in the process of building this unit so I would love more feedback.

      Thanks again.

      Nov 7, 11 11:25 am  · 

      this idea is not yours the images come from Swedish architects Add-a-room.

      Nov 3, 19 11:45 pm  · 

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One part, a take on the built environment of Cleveland, OH. Other part, a venue to post projects that I will use to compile for my M.arch application.

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  • Micro Market: Townhalls about the Smallest of Houses
    Nov 5 '11