The “tiny house” phenomenon is still tiny and has the attention of a wee number of designers, but a gathering in Garfield recently gave CityLab some interesting information
about the plausibility of this miniscule movement becoming a larger trend.
CityLab is an experiment that gauges so-called soft, or creative, factors that go into economic development.
Earlier this month, Citylab convened a tiny houses brainstorming session and reports that “almost sixty participants filled up Assemble in Garfield.”
The facilitator was architect Dutch MacDonald of MAYA Design.
CityLab explains why it was intrigued by this idea as a solution to housing needs in Garfield.
“Tiny Houses respond to several issues identified by cityLAB along with our partners at the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation. First of all, Garfield is bracing itself for an increase in vacant land over the next five years with the pending demolition of several unsalvageable vacant houses, including many along Rosetta Street. cityLAB believes that Tiny Houses will help to fill the holes in the neighborhood’s fabric more quickly than conventional houses, since they will be more affordable to build, and that they will reach a new market more effectively, since they will be more affordable to purchase and maintain.
Another reason why cityLAB thinks that Tiny Houses may be a good idea for Garfield is that buying or building a new house is an increasingly expensive proposition in Pittsburgh. With Tiny Houses, cityLAB wants to create an entry market of inexpensive homes in Garfield so that Garfield becomes a destination for a type of housing that people can’t find anywhere else — in effect to make Garfield an alternative housing incubator. cityLAB thinks that Tiny Houses will draw people to Garfield because of the quirkiness, sustainability, and thrift embodied in living small.
“Research shows that many people are interested in living smaller. A 2013 study by the Urban Land Institute reported that more than half of the Americans surveyed prefer neighborhoods that are close to shops, have a mix of incomes, and have public transportation; 61% of respondents said they would prefer a shorter commute and a smaller home to a longer commute and a larger home. Garfield has many of the amenities that respondents prefer, with its accessibility to public transportation, central location, and community assets. With the funding received for this project, cityLAB will research and define the Tiny House market in Garfield (and Pittsburgh) and design, develop, and price three Tiny House designs.”
“The small house movement drew attention during the financial crisis of 2007 to 2010, as small houses offer affordable acquisition and maintenance costs and are ecologically friendly. The small house movement is an architectural and social movement that advocates living simply in small homes. Many small houses range in size from 350 to 900 square feet."
“Tiny Houses is the latest in a series of projects related to the 6% Place, including the Garfield Creative Census and the Garfield Night Market, that cityLAB has embarked on with the 6% Place advisory committee and our partners at the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation. If you want to know more about the project, get involved by emailing
or by calling us at 412 434-7080 ext. 4.”
Photo by Sara Blumenstein courtesy of cityLab