Will Napoleon Complex Usher in the Era of the Microburb
We love tiny houses, with their tiny, efficient layouts. They truly exemplify the idea of doing more with less. But just because you have a tiny house, doesn’t mean you have a tiny footprint. If you have a 140 sq ft house on a 10 acre lot in the middle of nowhere, your environmental footprint might rival a McMansion’s. Moreover, you might not be enjoying the social and material benefits of neighbors.
Jay Shafer, who recently left Tumbleweed Tiny Houses–the preeminent tiny house company–has an answer for this contradiction. His new company, Four Lights, has developed the Napoleon Complex, which fuses tiny houses with city-rivaling levels of density, efficiency and community potential. In fact, they expect 16-22 homes per acre. To compare, HUD states that median lot size across the US for single-family homes, including mobile homes, is 0.27 acres.
The complex, which will be located in Northern California, is a collection of 40 -70 houses ranging from 270-700 sq ft. Each house will have an individual plot and pay a fee similar to a coop common charge. The homes’ individuation gives them an intentional level of autonomy, explaining the project’s tagline of “Co-housing for the anti-social.” Other amenities include:
- 800-1600 sq ft common house
- Private gardens
- 1.5 parking spaces per house (importantly, separated from the homes).
- Shared outdoor space
- Private storage units
- Prominent pedestrian walkways.
Four Light’s website explains the rationale behind the complex:
In many ways, tiny houses work best in concert with other tiny houses and shared amenities. This is a dream long-shared by many including myself. The place will be zoned as an R.V. park, but will look and feel more like the concept drawings I’m presenting to the left [pictured above]. I’ve used the same design principles that go into each of my tiny house designs to create an environment that feels contained but not confining—vibrant but not at all crowded.
In other words, they’re giving people the best of the suburbs–privacy, quiet, greenery–without the downsides–inefficient homes, sprawl, isolation. Shafer is a master of bypassing building regulation and the complex’s RV designation will likely expedite the expected 2015 completion date. We can’t wait to see it.
Images credit: Four Lights