If Ikea can flat-pack its furniture, why not a tiny house?

ikea space10 building blocks tiny house 2

If you thought assembling a bed from Ikea was a headache-inducing experience, imagine being tasked to build a whole (if tiny) house for pennies on the dollar.

That was the assignment tasked to two Danish architecture students who were challenged by Ikea to create an adaptable living structure that would use as few materials as possible, as cheaply as possible. (You can see where this is going: Ikea is totally going to flat-pack a house eventually).

Johanne Holm-Jensen and Mia Behrens were invited to perform a six-month-long residency project at Ikea’s Space10, a Denmark-based future-living lab to create the cheapest, most versatile living structure possible and to say they succeeded is an understatement. They named their project “Building Blocks,” and managed to create a fully functional micro-home for $192 per square meter, or $9,400 in total.

The keys to their breakthrough, a fully modular home that can be shipped at low cost or downloaded and replicated around the world, are twofold. First, the duo used a single machine, the easily available and cost-effective CNC milling machine to craft the home. Second, they used a single material in FSC-certified plywood, one of the most pervasive building materials used in construction today.

The design is intended to be made so that it’s easily downloaded in the public domain, a practice known as “open-source architecture.” Designed with flexibility in mind, the tiny home could be utilized as anything from a backyard writing cabin to emergency housing in regions around the world. Once an open-source designed is released, it can be freely utilized by anyone to use, modify or share.

The “footprint” of the design is just 49 square meters (a mere 527 square feet), which excludes it from most building regulations. The students’ remarkable structure is also modular, which means it can be scaled to meet different needs, ranging from a cabin getaway to a camp for hundreds.

ikea space10 building blocks tiny house architects
Johanne Holm-Jensen (left) and Mia Behrens (right).

“For Building Blocks, we prioritized “honest architecture,” the architects wrote in Medium. “That means we haven’t concealed anything. The building is what you see. We believe it is smarter if people have to build Building Blocks themselves. To this end, we chose to expose the construction, so that everything from the bearing columns to the joists under the floor to the rafters supporting the ceiling is visible.”

While the building is remarkably transformative, the architects admit they still have a significant problem with a simple challenge: Water. Plywood is notoriously not water-resistant, and the builders had to resort to coating all the exterior surfaces with tar. The prototype also doesn’t drain well because all of its horizontal assemblies lack an incline. They noted that they’re waiting for producers of sheet materials to create more sustainable, long-lasting, and accessible solutions.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

3D printers are finally affordable. Here are the best models under $500

3D printer prices have dropped dramatically over the past few years, but just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. Here, we’ve rounded up all the cheap 3D printers that are actually worth spending your money on.
Movies & TV

Oscar-winning FX master explains why ‘First Man’ is a giant leap for filmmaking

Paul Lambert, the Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor on First Man, reveals the innovative techniques that blended old footage with modern movie magic to make the Apollo 11 mission to the moon resonate with audiences 50 years later.

You're never too broke to enjoy the best free-to-play games

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.
Smart Home

The best sous vide machines cook your food perfectly, every single time

Want to make four-star meals from the comforts of your own kitchen? Here are the best sous vide machines available right now, whether you prefer simple immersion circulators or something more complex.
Smart Home

Busted: Facebook Portal gets 5-star reviews from company employees

It's fair to say that Facebook's Portal smart display received a tepid response at launch, so it was something of a surprise to see lots of glowing reviews of the device on Amazon. Turns out some were written by Facebook workers.
Smart Home

The Instant Pot Lux is a gateway drug into the pleasures of pressure cooking

The 3-quart Instant Pot Lux is one of the most affordable Instant Pots you can buy. Is it still a solid pressure cooker? Here are our thoughts on the Instant Pot Lux, a great IP baseline model.
Smart Home

Idaho mother says her child’s light-up sippy cup exploded

After a mother filled a Nuby insulated light-up cup with milk, the cup allegedly exploded. The incident caused burns to the mother's hand and face and a stinging sensation in her lungs that required a trip to the hospital.
Smart Home

Project Alias is a ‘smart parasite’ that stops smart speakers from listening

Two designers chose to do something about nosy smart speakers. The result is Project Alias, a "smart parasite" that whispers nonsense to Google Home and Alexa until it hears a specific wake word.
Smart Home

DS3 Clean water-free swatches could be the future of cleaning products

DS3 Clean swatches were on display at CES 2019. The small swatches come in several types, including shampoo and toilet cleaner. They're great for travel, but their real impact is in how such supplies will be shipped and stored.
Smart Home

Amazon patents a technology to help Alexa fight fake voice attacks

Amazon filed a patent this month for a new technology that looks like it would help its digital assistant Alexa fight fake voice attacks that could potentially fool Alexa's biometric security protocols.
Smart Home

Amazon Prime members number more than 100 million in the U.S., survey says

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated there were 101 million U.S. Amazon Prime members as of December 31, 2018. Last April, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote there were more than 100 global million Prime members.
Smart Home

With focus on interoperability, is Nevo Butler a smarter home hub?

Universal Electronics is the latest company getting into the smart home market, announcing at CES 2019 that it intends to market the Nevo Butler, a new smart home hub with onboard A.I. and voice control technology.
Emerging Tech

Google’s radar-sensing tech could make any object smart

Computer scientists have shown how Google’s Soli sensor can be used to make dumb objects smart. Here's why radar-powered computing could finally make the dream of smart homes a reality.