A Professor’s Tiny House Is a Model for Different Living

The San Francisco Chronicle features an article today about a tiny house with a big impact that is sitting in a professor’s backyard. Karen Chapple, an associate professor of city and regional planning at the University of California at Berkeley, worked with students in engineering and design to build a 450-square-foot house that is a “net-zero energy” structure — that is, through solar panels, it produces more energy than it uses. Ms. Chapple thought her two-bedroom Berkeley bungalow “was too small for her constant stream of guests, her daughter, and an aging relative,” according to the Tiny House Blog. (The home had its ribbon-cutting ceremony over the weekend.)

But the home might also prove to be a model for new building in the area — the San Francisco Chronicle called it a “stealth infill” project that “deserves study by every city where the need for housing outstrips the supply of obvious land.” And Ms. Chapple is taking on that study to determine where these miniature houses could fit around the Bay Area. Her initial impression is that there is room for 4,000 around the city, the article says.

Certainly, the house follows a trend of interest in tiny houses. They must represent a yearning for simplicity in difficult times. But whether people actually want such small living is yet to be determined. “It’s something that people want in the abstract,” John McIlwain, a senior research fellow at the Urban Land Institute, told the San Francisco newspaper. “The need is there, and a number of communities are starting to talk about it, but there’s often resistance at the neighborhood level.”

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