The fall is upon us. But rewind to June, and that’s when all things itsy bitsy began. As former director of marketing with Habitat for Humanity in Vancouver, I got a total education in housing in our city, and just how unaffordable it really is. That in mind, and after watching a film on tiny homes, the wheels started to turn and Think Big Live Little took shape. A design and build contest, TBLL uses tiny homes to flush out some amazing designs, and incorporate them into existing neighbourhoods. So the mission began. I spoke to City of Vancouver cultural planners, the Vancouver Economic Commission, UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, the Industry Training Authority, Habitat for Humanity Canada (an official partner!), SFU, Emily Carr, AIBC, amazing architects and planners, BCTIA… Feedback was great but still, what legacy would TBLL leave?
Second iteration, and TBLL was pitched to SFU’s innovation hub, RADIUS. Now, not only was Think Big Live Little focused on its incentive challenge but added deconstruction practices to the mix. What if 70 to 80% of your construction materials were reclaimed? Not only would the house be sustainable and eco-friendly, it would take design to the next level.
After meeting with city planners in New Westminster, North Vancouver and Pitt Meadows, I was on a high. People seemed receptive to the idea of building tiny. It fell in line with their affordable housing strategies, and could work as secondary suites or as intensification models. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, and I had the chance to meet with the planning department at the City of Coquitlam. Accompanied by a tiny house builder, I changed my tune. I wasn’t just promoting the design contest, I was promoting tiny homes for future community development. The goal was lofty, and the room, a soundboard for nope, not in our backyard, what?!… Rather than see the get-together as a total write-off, it got me thinking about small living as a whole. And that for TBLL to fly sky high, tiny homes had to be conceivable beyond concept; we had to play by city rules.
So where does that leave TBLL? Alive and well, but with a new focus: to prototype tiny homes as single use and within community-based typology. To create the framework—building plans/specs and legal—to integrate small living into our Canadian cities, and potentially, our future cities. Working alongside top senior architects, planners, designers, builders, developers, financiers and lawyers—we’re developing all possibilities for tiny living in our backyards, with the hopes of sharing plans A, B and C with municipalities from X, Y and Z.
With that said, let the journey begin!