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.
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.
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.
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 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.
The front porch as well as the rest of the roofs are covered in corrugated steel.
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 front door is to the left, while the courtyard is on the right.
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.