Early Bird, Tiny Cabin, Hampshire, UK

'The early bird catches the worm' - The cabin serves as a movable SAWA office, to be on location living in and creating regenerative systems.

With future prospects of upcoming projects have live-in teams for extended seasons, SAWA has embarked on a personal project to build a tiny home to take SAWA where ever we are needed! The brief was to build a compact home for one person utilising as much permaculture and natural building principles as we can muster, and to build this on a 2 x 6 m re-used car trailer with a maximum weight limit of 3.5 tonnes – which is no easy feat!

It has been quite the project – and being one so personal to SAWA, an extraordinary time of learning and growth. It is wonderful to say that it has safely flown the nest and landed in it’s new home on Springham Farm! Ed is settling in and making a house a home.

This (Cedar Clad, Douglas Fur frame) timber cabin has been designed with permaculture and regenerative design principles to be in line with the laws of nature. The Cabin is equipped with a wood burner and solar PV to be an autonomous off-grid home. With the intention to be able to move this home into any rural site, with minimal interventions made to the land, and when it leaves the, the soil will be better off with all the composting and seed sharing and planting SAWA will do.

The tiny house showcases our first use of an exciting building material that is gaining traction in the UK market – Wood Fibre Board! This wonderful product allowed use to create a breathable building envelope, and remove the need for plastic damp proof membranes. The boards interlock together to make a water tight barrier which lets water rest on it and evaoporate or run off, while still allowing air moisture to pass in and out the building to maintain a comfortable, breathable internal environment. The boards are also fire retardant and, being made of wood fibres, are a sustainable product! The boards were easy to work with, and meant we could allow our volunteers during the workshops to take part in measuring, cutting and installing the wood fibre boards.

The scale and construction methodology of the build allowed us to get volunteers involved in all elements of the project, to get a taste of what it could take to make a tiny house for themselves! Within the workshop, volunteers learnt about design, timber framing, using hand and power tools, cutting and measuring, and assembly.

Through networks established through last years workshops, collaborators and learners from near and far have returned to the Tiny House project to help out. Many hands make light work!

Projects of this type can be acheived on a range of budgets. Bringing the cost down while maintaining a high quality end result can be done from being thrifty and reclaiming materials from skips, reclamation yards, and even on road sides. An excellent example of this was a set of wooden double glazed windows found in a dumpster. It is amazing what people throw away, and re-using materials continues that items life cycle and holds the embodied energy that went into making that material in your building.

With the external work complete, and the Early Bird successfully moved to it’s first site, focus has shifted to make a house a home, and gently working on the interior details to make the cabin a comfortable and functional domestic space.

Collaboration has been fundamental throughout the project. It has been a pleasure to engage so many people with SAWA’s work and spread knowledge and awareness as well as empower others to be able to self-build and start their own tiny house projects!

Solar Design
Central the Design brief to create maximum flexibility and sustainability in an ever changing world where nothing is certain , Ed wanted the design to be able to be ON and OFF grid. It is clear to me the self sufficiency and and autonomy are the most sensible and approach to sustainable design. Increase independence rather dependance. This means the house can be powered by solar PV panels and also be topped up by a grid connection if needed for any high energy usage in the winter. The system can have 12 volt appliance and mains appliance plugged into it, for different useages.

Client

SAWA

Build Cost

£15000

Build Area

12

Date

July 2021 - Present

SAWA Role

Architect, Designer, Self Builder, Community Organiser, Workshop Leader

Collaborators

Volunteers

40+