tech offices sport tiny escapes

Many tech offices are known for their hip hangouts. Rather than sticking to bright and energetic themes, companies are adding calm and escapist areas. We’re seeing small-space benefits play out in meeting rooms, dining areas and other work spaces.

Let’s examine evidence from Twitter, Quixey, PayPal and Google offices.

Authentic West from Twitter

TWITTER - Here's a 100-year-old Montana homestead, one of two reclaimed for Twitter's headquarters. (marinij.com)

TWITTER – Here’s a 100-year-old Montana homestead, one of two reclaimed for Twitter’s headquarters. (marinij.com)

TWITTER - This log dining area comes directly from a Montana cabin, forever protected from the elements. (Inhabitat)

TWITTER – This log dining area comes directly from a Montana cabin, forever protected from the elements. (Inhabitat)

Ersatz West from Quixey

QUIXEY - In a saloon meeting room, featuring an 1880s piano, staffers transport to the Wild West. (SV Business Journal)

QUIXEY – In a saloon meeting room, featuring an 1880s piano, staffers transport to the Wild West. (SV Business Journal)

QUIXEY - The Ski Lodge meeting room delivers mountain charm, especially with that hunting prize. (SV Business Journal)

QUIXEY – The Ski Lodge meeting room brings mountain charm, especially with that hunting prize. (SV Business Journal)

Outside from PayPal

PAYPAL - In Chicago, a tree house is ready to host Braintree collaborations or independent work. (Business Insider)

PAYPAL – In Chicago, a tree house is ready to host Braintree collaborations or independent work. (Business Insider)

PAYPAL - Three Braintree employees are working comfortably in hammocks, rather than sitting at desks. (Braintree)

PAYPAL – Three Braintree employees are working comfortably in hammocks, rather than sitting at desks. (Braintree)

Inside/Outside from Google

GOOGLE - In the NYC office, Google's tiny apartment interior delivers a non-Googley meeting environment. (PC Mag)

GOOGLE – In the NYC office, Google’s tiny apartment interior delivers a non-Googley meeting environment. (PC Mag)

GOOGLE - There's a furnished tiny house trailer parked in the Amsterdam office. We love this escape! (Office Snapshots)

GOOGLE – There’s a furnished tiny house trailer parked in the Amsterdam office. We love this escape! (Office Snapshots)

tiny houses on wheels, in transit

We can’t resist the allure of tiny houses on wheels as they travel down the road. Here are our favorite examples from this past year, surely destined to become icons.

Meeting on the road:  One tiny house accelerated and passed by another on a quiet Western U.S. highway, during Autumn 2013.

Tumbleweed Elm passes Tiny Project home (The Tiny Project)

Tumbleweed Elm passes Tiny Project home (The Tiny Project)

Rounding the curve:  This tiny place is leaving its Sonoma, California build site, and heading east towards Oklahoma City.

House leaves California wine country (Long Story Short House)

House leaves California wine country (Long Story Short House)

Jumping for joy: One couple, their dog, and tiny home will travel all next year. Here’s their first test drive, at a turnaround point.

House at road's end, in California (Tiny House Giant Journey)

House at road’s end, in California (Tiny House Giant Journey)

Taking a ferry: Heading from Canada to Alaska, this tiny house parks in the ferry and looks a little different than neighboring vehicles.

House takes short cut to Alaska (Tumbleweed)

House takes over-water short cut to Alaska (Tumbleweed)

Visiting the White House: A tiny blue home heads through security before reaching its Makers’ Faire parking spot.

House driven carefully into the White House (Wishbone)

House driven carefully into the White House (Wishbone)

Animating an icon: This little house barrels down the road under its own steam. We think the cardboard and felt roof needs to get fixed soon.

House steam-chugs along, by Philippa Rice (Cardboard Life)

moderns for homeless & well-offs

Is there a convergence in modern homes for homeless and well-off people? Homes may be similar based on archetypal roof-lines, shapes and open living areas. Green standards also translate into similar energy saving and sourcing approaches.

Costs can get controlled via standard designs, material choices, modular or pre-fab construction, home size and build location. We’ve heard about snazzy moderns already designed for some homeless, who live where buffalo roam.

Fort Peck home by Architecture For Humanity (Make It Right)

Fort Peck home by Architecture For Humanity (Make It Right)

Introducing the Fort Peck homes

Welcome to Fort Peck Reservation, Montana, where the unemployment rate is 50+ percent and residents wait years for substandard homes. It’s a well-picked place for building family houses meant to last.

Brad Pitt’s Make It Right team and collaborators began working with residents last year. “This is the first time in 130 years that anyone has asked us, ‘What do you want your home to look like?’” declared Dr. Ken Ryan, local historian.

Fast forward, and five homes have been designed with sharp looks, livability and LEED platinum certification in mind. We’re not surprised these moderns received attention from Fine Homebuilding, Archdaily and Building Design.

What’s next? Make It Right has initially pledged 20 homes and another 80 units are planned. Your donations are appreciated here. Over the next year, expect to see these homes improve many lives.

Fort Peck home by Living Homes (Make It Right)

Fort Peck home by Living Homes (Make It Right)

Fort Peck home by Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative (Make It Right)

Fort Peck home by Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative (Make It Right)

Fort Peck home by Method Homes (Make It Right)

Fort Peck home by Method Homes (Make It Right)

Fort Peck home by Graft Home Design (Make It Right)

Fort Peck home by Graft Home Design (Make It Right)

uncommon space-saving lamps

How far would you go to conserve lighting space in a little house? For lamp lovers, check out three models which make their own space-saving statements.

Sticker lighting — These matching floor and table lamps don’t exactly exist, though work perfectly well as lighting sources.

To operate these two lamps, place their stickers on the wall and affix cords and bulbs with a screw.(Pa-Design)

To operate these two lamps, place their stickers on the wall and affix cords and bulbs with a screw. (Pa-Design)

Flat, bendable lighting — This table lamp arrives as a flat piece of stainless steel, and uses minimal space when bent into shape.

After bending, this lamp stands with its obvious cord and hidden bulb. Pick a white, black, red or steel finish. (Almerich)

After bending, this lamp stands with its obvious cord and hidden bulb. Pick a white, black, red or steel finish. (Almerich)

Quarter lamp lighting — This floor lamp sports a quarter-sized shade and base, to nestle into any corner. Call it the wallflower model, right?

Like any lamp, simply find an unused corner and plug in this quarter lamp lighting -- and you're good to go. (ConceptJI)

Like any lamp, simply find an unused corner and plug in this quarter lamp lighting — and you’re good to go. (ConceptJI)

brainerd, minnesota voted yes

This year, Brainerd City Council members began addressing their vacant city lot problem. With 465 properties legally blocked from development, members proposed lower minimum house sizes — and finally voted yes!

This 1920s Brainerd home contains four bedrooms and two baths. It just sold for $84,000, a decades-ago price in any large U.S. metro area. (Realtor.com)

This 1920s Brainerd home contains four bedrooms and two baths. It just sold for $84,000, a decades-ago price in any large U.S. metro area. (Realtor.com)

Brainerd took its first downsizing step, lowering minimum house sizes from 750 to 500 square feet on all empty lots. While a 400 sq. ft. minimum was first proposed, it changed due to existing home value concerns.

Why is Brainerd, MN unusual? It’s a small city of 13,590 citizens, and a vacation place with modest home prices. Typically large metros, with high real estate prices, have been first-movers in lowering minimum sizes of homes.

The Star-Tribune reports that Minneapolis set a good precedent, with 500 sq. ft. minimums for standalone houses and 350 sq. ft. minimums for secondary, efficiency apartments.

P.S. Are Brainerd residents thinking about buying property yet? A quick search uncovers Minnesota companies which design and build small, beautiful places. We like these weeHouses and cabins.

1945 homeless shelter, for $2.5 mm

Yes, a 1945 homeless shelter designed by architect Jean Prouve is available for $2.5 million. With two originals in existence, Gallerie Patrick Seguin priced the early pre-fab like a rare masterwork.

See this 689 square-foot structure get assembled, video here.

Prouve’s shelters were designed for homeless families, whose towns were destroyed during World War II. Surprisingly, they incorporate new construction techniques, materials and other flourishes. Let’s take a closer look at the exterior and interior of our house-for-sale.

Designed 60 years ago, the metal framing and natural wood cladding look modern today. Notice the large glass panels are slightly angled away from house, an interesting touch from architect Prouve. (Patrick Seguin)

Designed 60 years ago, the metal framing and natural wood cladding look modern today. Notice the large glass panels are slightly angled away from the house, an interesting touch from architect Prouve. (Patrick Seguin)

Welcome to the empty interior of the Prouve shelter. Bent steel is used for the load-bearing, axial portal frame system. The architect developed and patented this "demountable" approach in 1938. (Patrick Seguin)

Welcome to the empty interior of the Prouve shelter. Bent steel is used for the load-bearing, axial portal frame system. The architect developed and patented this “demountable” approach in 1938. (Patrick Seguin)

Now staged with a mid-century daybed, desk, chairs, side table and shelves, the Prouve place looks cool. As a post-war shelter, we imagine more spartan decor, sleeping quarters and a small kitchen too. (Patrick Seguin)

Now staged with a mid-century daybed, desk, chairs, side table and shelves, the Prouve place looks cool. As a post-war shelter, we imagine more spartan decor, sleeping quarters and a small kitchen too. (Patrick Seguin)

cute cube to dining for five

Let’s celebrate a transformer that fulfills its mission. Imagine a slatted wood cube inside your little house, placed near the entry or seating area. When you want to invite guests over for a meal or celebration, the cube disassembles into a complete dining table and seating for five.

Qube rolls around the place. It could be used for an art display, nice plant, work space or snack tray. (Dioinno Architects)

Qube rolls around the place. It could be used for an art display, nice plant, work space or snack tray. (Dioinno Architects)

The Qube slats are truly functional. They turn into a table and five seats, including the empty cube. (Dioinno Architects)

The Qube slats are truly functional. They turn into a table and five seats, including the empty cube. (Dioinno Architects)

Based in Buffalo (NY) and Korea, Dioinno Architects won Architizer’s A+ Jury Award for Qube 1 this year. Architizer calls the piece a hot product, due to its multitasking appeal and prowess.

Qube works well in urban spaces or smaller homes, as described by Dioinno: “Use of material and space is at the maximum efficiency, but its appearance is mostly minimal. Then it transforms the space when it is expanded. Qube is designed to create extra space when it is needed.”

Cheers for the Qube, a looker that isn’t hard to set up for a social gathering. It’s heartening to discover alternatives beyond folding tables like mighty-lites.