Reclaim Magazine December 2017 NestHouse feature – has a frank article about my story and the development of the NestHouse prototype and Josh Littlejohn’s subsequent request to use my concept house for the Social Bite Village in Edinburgh – part of their drive to eradicate homelessness in Scotland.
In early 2017 I designed a special variant of the NestHouse for the project – now known as the NestHouse Duo which has two single bedrooms with sleep niches and a communal living space in a compact footprint of about 30 square meters. The village in Granton has now broken ground and is well under way. The first NestHouse Duo prototype sat in St Andrews Square, Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Festival and has since been to the airport and latterly sits outside of the old fire station next to the Art College – quite a tour to make friends and raise funds for Social Bite!
The article mentions the culmination of Social Bite’s fundraising activities – Sleep in the Park which is happening this Saturday 9th December 2017 – an overnight sleep-out with entertainment from John Cleese, Deacon Blue, Liam Gallagher, Amy Macdonald etc etc.
The NestHouse Moveable Modular Micro House System is in the process of transitioning from its prototype 1.0 stage to the 2.0 iteration! NestHouse Models can now be Announced. There will now be four models on offer to make choice and configuration as flexible as possible. Full details coming soon but please be patient as I am working several projects at once at the moment…!!
The NestHouse SPACE – is the main ‘Live’ module from the NestHouse 1.0 concept. It is an open floorplan 3.4m wide x 3.6m to 7.2m long unit available in 1.2m increments.
This can simply be used by itself as a studio, writer’s retreat, hobby room, home office etc. but fundamentally forms the starting point for the NestHouse modular design with the addition of any combination of the modules available:
Modules: Enter, Bathe, Sleep Loft, Sleep Niche, or LINK
With these it can be tailored to more complex functions right up to standalone permanent living accommodation: a NestHouse for micro living, first time buyers, homesteading, ADU accessory dwelling unit (granny annexe).
The NestHouse SOLO – is a 4.8m Live module and the Enter, Bathe and Sleep Loft modules. As such it is a conveniently pre-configured tiny house solution for use as extra accommodation, static caravan alternative etc. As such it is a ready made example of what can be achieved with the available modules but of course can be based around a SPACE model of the desired size (3.6-7.2m long) and then fitted with whichever modules are required.
The NestHouse DUO – is the accommodation module which I designed for the Social Bite Village in Edinburgh – it has two single berths – Sleep Niche modules at either end (ie. no Sleep Lofts). It is ideal for extra accommodation or for social and business applications and can be individually hand built by myself or supplied in commercial quantities (not limited by my 3 per year output!) through my construction partners to full BS3632:2015 compliance. As with all NestHouses there is very little long term site impact and they can easily and quickly be re-deployed to another site as required.
The NestHouse LINK – describes any multiple combination of units joined or linked by a LINK module. This is a 3.4m wide x 2.4 /3.6m long module to join two other NestHouse models – either in a straight line or at an obtuse angle set for shelter or solar gain etc.. This allows for a larger footprint than a single NestHouse and a combination of specific functions in the units – eg. use a SPACE linked to a SOLO for a studio with accommodation; or two SOLOs linked to provide a larger house. This increases the NestHouse range footprint from the smallest 3.6m SPACE at 12.2m2 up to 49m2 for two 7.2m SPACEs with a 3.6m LINK module.
There are many creative variations for the LINK module ranging from a simple covered breezeway to a glass fronted atrium
NestPod models announced – I am happy to reveal by way of a teaser that the there will be three models of NestPod available and coming soon: the NestPod Solo, NestPod Outback and NestPod Venture!
The Solo is a one person tiny house on wheels. The Outback is an off grid explorer tiny house on wheels. The Venture is a tiny house on wheels for entrepreneurial applications – this could be a farm shop, therapy room, mobile HQ, event office, advertising or promotional tool – the choice is limited only by your imagination…
Great to see the update to the project published in the most relevant journal – the Big Issue!
“The first home, which was designed by architect Jonathan Avery of Tiny House Scotland, is set to go on public view in St Andrews Square for the duration of the Edinburgh Festival throughout August before it is placed in the village alongside the other dwellings before Christmas.”
Funnily enough, back in the early 90’s when I started making furniture I did seriously consider going back to education to become an architect! But now it would appear I have achieved that anyway…of course the root of the term architect comes from the Greek arkhi (chief) and tekton (builder) and was used as such by traditional timber framers to designate the person who had the experience and knowledge to size and design traditional joined timber frames.
I’m happy to have had one of my photos of the NestHouse featured on Cabin Porn – the great Tumblr site that became a best-selling book worldwide. If you want some inspiration for your quiet place somewhere, this is the book for you!
My favourite photo of my Dad George and I taken inside Greenland Place in Camden, London – my photography and graphics studio circa 1986. This was my second premises, having been in a Council incubator unit with Nick and our business The Image Factor, just around the corner in Carol Street Workshops for a year beforehand.
Just behind the Natwest Bank on Camden High Street, 1 Greenland Place was a semi derelict ex-garment factory (or sweat-shop as we used to call them) on three floors. I rented and refurbished the top floor which had a marvelous loft atmosphere, windows around two sides and a pre-health and safety double goods door which opened into thin air with a gantry hoist!
This 1500sq ft space was ideally flexible for studio photography, fashion shoots etc. as well as having space for a darkroom, drawing board etc. – this was just prior to the digital revolution and I think my early adopter’s Mac SE came a year later! It was here over the coming years that I produced logos, brochures and photography for a range of clients from small businesses to a few Blue Chips besides.
And it was here in 1987 where Jo unwittingly met her husband! She had a job cold-calling on business premises with a big bag full of shirts and sweaters for a company called Sleeves in the West End. Now I would never have admitted a sales person via the entry phone, but luckily for us, Maureen Jones on the floor below had already let her in and after visiting there, mentioned that there was a glamorous young designer/photographer on the next floor who may be interested…! Which is why she was able to barge through my door with her holiday tan and short skirt…and we were both smitten! To be honest I put up a fight for a month or two but then Felix, Jacob and thirty years later we are still together and more in Love than ever!
It’s worth mentioning that Jazzie B and the Soul to Soul crew had a shop in the indoor market on the ground floor and their keyboard player Phil worked for Nick and I as a printer when we started the Image Factor!
Half an hour outside Edinburgh, in a tranquil spot in West Lothian, Jonathan Avery sits drinking tea in his prototype NestHouse. It is a dinky place but full of thoughtful touches. There’s a compact, Japanese-style deep-soak bath, a cute mezzanine bedroom with views through a porthole window, and a very hygge wood-burning stove – all within a building just 3.4 metres wide. The exterior is clad in thermo-treated Finnish spruce and the insulated front door clunks shut with the authority of a bank vault. Avery wears rimless spectacles, chunky work boots and a lime-green T-shirt that matches the kitchen chairs and the front door. Is that on purpose? “No, it’s not deliberate,” says Avery. Then he whispers, “Yes it is, it’s deliberate. I’m a designer!”
When Littlejohn first imagined a village for the homeless, he saw the residents living in modified shipping containers. He admits that sounds “a bit shit”, but he’d seen an episode of Grand Designs where a young architect in Northern Ireland welded four together to create a luxury house. But the more Littlejohn investigated it, the more problems he came up against: cutting windows into containers quickly becomes expensive, and the buildings often fight a losing battle against condensation. “We could have done a glorified shed quite easily,” he says, “but it just would have failed because I think the living environment has to inspire change.”
A Social Bite employee found Avery’s website, Tiny House Scotland, and forwarded it to Littlejohn. Avery had been inspired to build his NestHouse after reading about the “tiny house” boom in the US. The movement was born as a response first to Hurricane Katrina and then to the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008: small (under 500 sq ft), cheap and cheerful accommodation that could be moved around if needs be.
Avery, 55, had personal experience of the economic downturn: he had been looking to expand his high-end kitchen design company, which had shops in Edinburgh and Glasgow, into London, but his bank suddenly declined to support him. He closed the business and decided to work on a smaller scale. Then Littlejohn and Social Bite came along. “It’s funny,” says Avery, “because going back to my furniture business 15 years ago, I’d have been making these for rich Edinburgh clients as a playhouse in the garden. Now I’m not so keen on that. There are other ways to use architecture; it should have a reason and a purpose.”
With a house design found, Littlejohn’s village started to take shape…
I am very happy that my NestHouse has ended up in Lloyd Kahn’s new book – Small Homes – the Right Size – on sale as of 1st April 2017. Especially having heard Lloyd speak in Kirkcaldy last year. Shelter’s first building book in three years, it covers homes from 400-1200 sq. ft., smaller than a typical American home, and larger than a tiny home – in other words – just right! There are 65 buildings shown, with a variety of designs, materials, and locations.
From Lloyd Kahn: This is, I think, the best building book we’ve ever done. (Yes, I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it keeps re-occurring to me.) Shelter is everyone’s favorite; it captured the times; it inspired thousands of homes. Builders of the Pacific Coast is in some ways, my best book. It’s an odyssey of discovery where the reader rides shotgun with me over a two-year period — cohesive and focused.
BUT Small Homes is so useful to so many people in this era of astronomical home prices and rents, that I think it’s hugely important. It offers alternatives to people looking for rentals on Craigslist or homes on Zillow. Here are 65 very different homes, of different materials, in different parts of the world. The idea, as with all our building books is to use your hands to create your own shelter.
As this exciting project has matured (it’s been three years now!) the website has grown like Topsy throughout the process. So I have just given it a rebuild and refresher (phase 1) and then in phase 2 I will be working on the presentation of the NestHouse as a finalised product so that I can get it in order before building the next prototype NestPod™.
Rounding off a media-crazy 2016 for Tiny House Scotland – Homes & Interiors Scotland are running an article in their architecture section about the NestHouse in Issue 111 Jan/Feb 2017 – just out now!! Photography by yours truly. ; )
I am very happy to see my NestHouse feature on Treehugger!
Kimberley Mok comments: “In the seating area, there is an interesting arrangement here of the woodstove and stairs that isn’t commonly seen in a tiny house. The woodstove has been placed in the middle of the space, while the stairs going up to the sleeping loft snakes around it, which seems to be a more space-efficient alternative than having it go up one side of the house. In addition, there’s storage space under the stairs, with a set of clever pull-out furniture for storing books and more.
Avery is currently working on his next design, the towable NestPod™. According to the Guardian, about 10 structures based on the NestHouse are going to be built next year as part of a social initiative to end homelessness”.
The project came about when we were just thinking about the work we do with Social Bite and with the homeless, and how we could break the cycle of homelessness,” said Littlejohn, who hopes to raise £500,000 by Christmas to put the first houses into production early next year.
Just now we offer jobs, which is a massive thing, but a lot of support is required alongside the jobs and we wanted a joined-up approach. The fundamental problem is a home.”
Littlejohn approached Edinburgh council, which has donated land for the village. In addition to housing, the village will comprise a furniture shop to provide employment, a chicken coop, and a walled community garden.
The houses are the brainchild of designer and entrepreneur Jonathan Avery, who is based in Linlithgow and whose company, Tiny House Scotland, designs and builds the prefabricated NestHouse off-site. The homes will have one or two bedrooms, a WC with shower, a lounge area and a small food preparation area.
Littlejohn, who described the project as daunting when he first conceived it six months ago, said providing a “homely”, attractive atmosphere was a priority. As well as being low-cost, the homes have to be relocatable in case the council wants the land back in the future. The firm rejected proposals involving shipping containers before coming across Avery’s design. “Jonathan has spent the last two years building this [prototype] with his bare hands and it is a stunning little house,” Littlejohn said. It fulfilled all the criteria.
Designer Jonathan Avery, Tiny House Scotland, left, sits in front of his NestHouse prototype in Edinburgh with Social Bite’s Josh Littlejohn; also present EDI’s Gordon Munro and Edinburgh North & Leith MSP Ben Macpherson. Photo: Jeff Holmes