Cleopatra’s Tiny House

Cleopatra Testing Poisons on Condemned Prisoners by Alexandre Cabanel (1887).
Cleopatra Testing Poisons on Condemned Prisoners by Alexandre Cabanel (1887).

I call this design Cleopatra’s Tiny House because of the easy recognition of this figure in history as an Egyptian Pharaoh. However, this design is inspired by the design of Egyptian temples such as the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut.

 

Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Senmut Architect and Chancellor, 18th Dynasty, 1490-1460 BCE.
Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Senmut Architect and Chancellor, 18th Dynasty, 1490-1460 BCE.

Although massive and overbearing, I have always admired the towering vertical lines and the strong horizontals of Egyptian architectural design. Even though the Egyptians knew of the arch as early as the fourth dynasty, they prefered the monumental effect of post and lintel construction when using stone for their religious buildings.

 

Temple of Seti I, 19th Dynasty, Finished by Ramesses II.
Temple of Seti I, 19th Dynasty, Finished by Ramesses II.

Of course, we are talking about a residence here. The Egyptians, as with any warm or desert climate people, built dwellings to provide a respite from the heat. The strategies used are still used today and can be traced from the Romans to the Arabs to the Spanish and Italians.

 

Reconstruction of a Roman peristylum (peristyle) and peristylium (courtyard) of Pompeii.
Reconstruction of a Roman peristylum (peristyle) and peristylium (courtyard) of Pompeii.

With Cleopatra’s Tiny House, we have a covered entrance leading to a house in three sections. The tallest section encloses the living room and kitchen with a wall of folding doors that opens onto a central courtyard. On the other side of the courtyard are two bedrooms with a bathroom in between. Each bedroom has sliding glass doors on the side facing the courtyard. Because of all the glass doors, the courtyard becomes an intimate and private extension of the entire house and with this space centrally located and almost entirely shaded, it provides a cool place to dine or relax.

In this particular design the house maximizes privacy. No exterior walls have windows to look out upon the exterior landscape. Nevertheless, plenty of light comes in from the tall clerestory windows at the front and light pouring in from the courtyard.

The Front of Cleopatra’s Tiny House.
The Front of Cleopatra’s Tiny House.

The front boasts four large, square columns wrapped in galvanized, corrugated steel. These columns support a shade over the front entrance, but is independent of the house and does not touch the front.

 

Corner of the Front.
Corner of the Front.

The front porch as well as the rest of the roofs are covered in corrugated steel.

 

Moving Around to the Side.
Moving Around to the Side.

On this side is a barn door like gate that provides another exit as well as a means to move wider objects in and out.

The Side With Barn Door.
The Side With Barn Door.

Back Corner Showing the Different Roof Levels.
Back Corner Showing the Different Roof Levels.

Direct View of the Back.
Direct View of the Back.

Back Corner.
Back Corner.

The Other Side.
The Other Side.

The Other Front Corner.
The Other Front Corner.

Back to the Front.
Back to the Front.

Inside the Taller Section With Living Room and Kitchen.
Inside the Taller Section With Living Room and Kitchen.

The front door is to the left, while the courtyard is on the right.

 

Another View of the Front Entrance.
Another View of the Front Entrance.

Looking at the Front Entrance From Just Inside the Courtyard.
Looking at the Front Entrance From Just Inside the Courtyard.

A View of the Living Area.
A View of the Living Area.

Looking Out Onto the Courtyard.
Looking Out Onto the Courtyard.

Out on the Courtyard With the Kitchen on the Left and the Bedrooms and Bath on the Right.
Out on the Courtyard With the Kitchen on the Left and the Bedrooms and Bath on the Right.

 The Opposite Direction With the LIving Room on the Right and the Barn Door Directly Ahead.
 The Opposite Direction With the LIving Room on the Right and the Barn Door Directly Ahead.

 

Bedroom Door Opposite the Kitchen.
Bedroom Door Opposite the Kitchen.

 

Bedroom Door Opposite the Living Room. Also, the Central Bathroom Door.
Bedroom Door Opposite the Living Room. Also, the Central Bathroom Door.

The Bedroom Opposite the Kitchen.
The Bedroom Opposite the Kitchen.

The Bedroom Opposite the Kitchen, Looking in the Direction of the Door to the Courtyard.
The Bedroom Opposite the Kitchen, Looking in the Direction of the Door to the Courtyard.

Viewing the Door to the Bathroom.
Viewing the Door to the Bathroom.

The Centrally Located Bathroom.
The Centrally Located Bathroom.

In the Bath Looking to the Courtyard Door With the Other Bedroom on the Left.
In the Bath Looking to the Courtyard Door With the Other Bedroom on the Left.

The Bedroom Opposite the Living Room.
The Bedroom Opposite the Living Room.

The Other Side of the Bedroom.
The Other Side of the Bedroom.

Looking at the Sliding Glass Door to the Courtyard.
Looking at the Sliding Glass Door to the Courtyard.

The floor plan of this house is relatively simple and organized with three sections. The central courtyard becomes the unifying detail of the other two sections, yet defines the private, sleeping areas from the communal living and kitchen areas. Even with all the glass, this house is insular and private. Though this house has only around 600 sq. ft. interior space, each bedroom provides a secure, restful nest easily closed off from the rest of the house.

If made of cinderblock and stained cement floors, and without many windows, this house also would not demand any great expense. Standard, off-the-shelf materials could be used, with no need whatsoever for expensive or custom finishes.

Cleopatra’s Tiny House Floor Plan.
Cleopatra’s Tiny House Floor Plan.

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HBosler

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A House or Not!

I post this article as a bystander to an argument between two people I know. Even though this argument might offend one side or the other, I hope to provide an objective side to this division.

Simply stated, this argument is the result of some of the programs on American television concerning tiny houses. An overwhelming number of these houses are, due to the nature of the trailer frames they are built on, of a similar configuration and design. These dwellings fit on wheels and can be moved from place to place. One of my friends says these are tiny houses, while the other, with a little pique I might add, thinks the best description is “trailer”.

A Trailer, Tiny House or Not?
A Trailer, Tiny House or Not?

I suppose the first question that comes to mind is: What is a tiny house? If one does a search on the Internet, the answer to this question hardly appears consistent. As we know, size is relative. Building codes in many places have a limit of 700 square feet for residential housing. Although arbitrary, maybe this size is useful as a starting point for what is tiny and what is not. Even so, one can easily argue different sizes. Also, no real definition exists for a house. According to Dictionary.com:

a building in which people live; residence for human beings.

house. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/house(accessed: July 25, 2016).

So, without a real definition of “tiny” and “house”, except for the dictionary meaning, a tiny house could be anything depending on a person’s perspective.

Yet, there are individuals who would never, even though they very much prefer the concept of a tiny house, consider living in a trailer, especially one with a bedroom that will not allow for one to stand up or has little difference in width, geometric or interior configuration from one to another.

For some, a tiny house, indeed any house, sits on a permanent foundation and, therefore, exists in a unique environment and location as in any ordinary house. As I have mentioned elsewhere, the concept of a tiny house on wheels predominates due to the overbearance of government, that for false and antithetical reasons, powers that be deem it necessary to quash the production of small houses and maintain the fuddled definitions of real estate. To avoid the heavy hand, the tiny house is placed on wheels and escapes many of the minions, petty functionaries who think that order should supplant the pursuit of happiness.

So to boil it down, some say that a house does not have wheels. A “home” may be anything, but a house is not mobile in a traditional sense. Those things with wheels that are limited in width and have tires are more aptly called trailers, 5th wheels or RVs, rather than “houses”. A house has a street and a number.

5th Wheel Camper Interior.
5th Wheel Camper Interior.

 

5th Wheel Camper.
5th Wheel Camper.
RV Interior.
RV Interior.
RV
RV
Travel Trailer Interior.
Travel Trailer Interior.
Travel Trailer.
Travel Trailer.

Admittedly, the so-called tiny house on wheels does share much of the features of the above recreational vehicles and trailers. One would assume that if one considers the travel trailer, the 5th wheel or RV as a house, then this designation would apply to the tiny house on wheels as well. However, if one doesn’t see these as houses, then obviously the tiny house on wheels comes under question. Nonetheless, perhaps the classification as a “tiny house on wheels” becomes appropriate for a distinct definition outside the term “house”.

Regardless of this little argument between friends, a “home” is what many of us search for and we are quite willing to leave the definition of “house” to someone else.

HBosler

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