Van Bo Le-Mentzel, a Berlin-based architect, has recently unveiled the newest innovation in compact, minimalist living: the one square meter home. This phone-booth sized house functions as a bedroom, a shop, and an office. Specifically, small boards can also be brought down to function as desks and chairs. The house has one window with which to view the world, and can act as a counter for a shop. Lastly, once the sheets are brought out, the house can be tilted on its side to function as a bed.
What is perhaps most important about Le-Mentzel’s house is that it’s entirely affordable. The materials cost US$300, and can be built by hand within 24 hours. The addition of wheels at the bottom of the house also means that it’s perfectly mobile, enabling users to bring their home with them wherever they go.
The one square meter house redefines what it means to live sustainably. It doesn’t require an expansive list of materials to make, many of which need to be shipped or outsourced from international destinations. It can be made by hand, removing the need to use heavy machinery. It doesn’t need much in the way of electricity – just batteries to power a small, durable lamp for reading and writing. Overall, it’s a compact little home that has an astonishingly small carbon footprint.
Admittedly, the mini-house doesn’t have very many amenities, such as running water or electricity. However, this lack doesn’t take away from the message and idea of Le-Mentzel’s invention. It is meant to emphasize and re-evaluate what is most important when buying a place to live. It isn’t about the size or the splendour of the home – it’s the ability to dream big, to make big relationships, and to work on big ideas.
In terms of practicality, the one square meter house is definitely a solution to providing a cheap and durable roof over peoples’ heads. In fact, Le-Mentzel has a small collection of houses that he rents out (for $1 a night) to weary and experimental travelers. It isn’t a long stretch to see these houses being used for the lost and homeless – a shelter to weather out their storm, so to speak.
Le-Mentzel’s house redefines what it means to live minimally and sustainably. While it doesn’t provide for all our human needs, it does give us one thing: a place to create and spread our ideas. And, perhaps, that is the most important need of all.
To find out more about Le-Mentzel’s and his ideas, you can check out his site. You can also check out his one square meter house video below.