How small is too small for a house?
That’s the question sixth-graders at the Marblehead Community Charter Public School pondered last week, as they checked out what has been dubbed the world’s smallest house, created by artist Jeff Smith.
Smith’s tiny house, built with reclaimed wood, is 25 square feet with a 3-foot-tall ceiling.
It fits in the back of a regular minivan and has wheels so it can be rolled around easily.
“Having a house this small creates magical opportunities,” Smith told the Current. “You can roll it out of a parking lot and into the woods. You can sleep on the beach somewhere. Think of all the different places you get to under the radar. Imagine waking up in this weird place.”
The Charter students are studying tiny houses this trimester. They’ve met with an architect to learn about blueprints, design and construction. On Oct. 26, they met with Smith to learn about his tiny house, which he started building in 2015. He also made a short film about his project. The eight-minute movie can be viewed at youtube.com/watch?v=C_B8oTKkBAs.
“I was interested in the tiny house movement, but I also noticed there was something smug about it,” Smith said. “Sort of like when someone buys an electric car, they act like they saved the world a little bit. Everyone was trying to build the best tiny house. What was missing to me in this experiment was, ‘What’s the smallest tiny house you can make?’”
Smith claims the house is habitable, and he has lived in it for a few days at a time.
So, what makes it a house, instead of a box on wheels?
“It has a working stove, a working toilet, a working sink, a fire extinguisher, stairs to the roof and a fold-down table,” he said.
About that “toilet”: It’s literally a hole in the floor covered by a frisbee. Under the hole is “an old steel case desk drawer filled with kitty litter.”
Smith admits the toilet is more conceptual, and he doesn’t recommend people use it.
The water supply for the sink is a quart of water.
Students seemed impressed with Smith’s work.
“It had some storage solutions; for example, it had a folding table, which I thought was interesting,” said one sixth-grader. “It had me thinking about storage solutions and get a little more creative and make it feel bigger than it actually is. We have thought about adding in sliding doors and windows, and we want to use a murphy bed instead of a regular bed to save space. We also want to add on a porch to have more outdoor space that can be used for dining and stuff.”
The students will complete their own tiny house designs and build models. There will be 22 models on display at Charter’s exhibition on Nov. 20.