An artist’s representation of tiny homes to be constructed in Gosford. Photograph: Tiny Homes Foundation.
When pious architects choose to direct their talents toward a higher calling, they tend to do so in the form of towering cathedral spires, awe-inspiring sermon halls and grandiose vaulted ceilings.
Derek Mah, an associate at NBRS Architecture, went for something a little more humble. At a Sunday sermon about two years ago at Community Church Hornsby, on the northern fringes of Sydney, he was approached about using his skills not to devise great big buildings in the name of God, but tiny houses for the homeless.
The suggestion came from a friend in the congregation – David Woolridge, who, as Mah put it “has always been passionate about trying to get guys off the street and helping them out. He came up to me and said he’d gotten an idea about how to solve homelessness”.
It is a vision about to be realised in Gosford, on the New South Wales central coast, where three to four “tiny homes” that each take up just 14 square metres will be completed next month as the first project of Woolridge’s Tiny Homes Foundation, designed in partnership with NBRS Architecture.“Think of the house as a shoebox,”
The word “shoebox” isn’t usually a selling point in real estate parlance, but Mah uses it in this case with pride, given the long-term objective of the project is to enable housing to be provided to as many of Australia’s estimated 105,000 homeless people as possible in a country where building isn’t cheap, and land is eye-wateringly expensive.
Each tiny house costs less than $30,000 to deliver, and the small size of the building means it can be squeezed onto excess council-owned land not suitable for conventional housing, at potentially no cost.