More natural light streams in through double-glazed windows, strategically placed at each end of the building to harness the breeze, and there are louvres above the kitchen so you can glimpse the sky while cooking on the induction stove.
“There’s a lot packed into the space; every corner and inch has been used,” says Greg Gowans, director and design engineer for Simple Motion, the team building the home. The compact all-black kitchen also has a sink and fridge, bookended by bench seating that doubles as storage space. The bathroom is even more intimate with a sink, shower and toilet – with windows at eye level, it gives new meaning to a loo with a view.
There’s additional storage – or perhaps a hammock-like bed – in the sturdy sash-cord net strung from the ceiling. It’s above the double bed, scattered with handmade felt cushions and a knitted throw by local design company Nuuk; the colour palette of charcoal, lime and yellow is a lovely complement to silvertop cladding on the walls and cork on the floor. Being here, warmed by the wood-burning potbelly stove, you can’t help but feel happy. And that’s the goal, says Peter.
“I wanted to give people a sense of connection with nature and exude a sense of wellbeing,” he says. “The home is sustainable but it’s also a joyous place that makes people smile.”
If you can’t get to power, the Tiny Home can run low-energy loads for basic lights, controls and water pumps using energy harnessed by four high-efficiency solar panels, stored in a lithium battery. There are two water tanks under the bed: one for rainwater collected from the roof – ideal for maintaining pot-plants lining the windows – and one for drinking water, while tanks for grey and black water are hidden using canary-yellow Envirowalk mesh that also folds out from the main entrance to create a theatrical sun shield. Paired with the insulation and glazing, the Tiny Home offers incredible energy savings.
“We’ve built it to a six-star standard but have improved energy efficiency on that,” says Bess. “In fact, the Tiny Home is 60 per cent more efficient than a standard six-star property. It’s incredible to see the dramatic impact a few improvements can have on the efficiency of your home.”
Perhaps where the Tiny Home stands out most from others of its ilk is in its application of smart technology to streamline household duties, saving energy and money in the process.
“Everything in the space can be controlled by your voice,” says Jono Boer, Simple Motion’s tech expert. Jono has installed a smart speaker system that uses voice commands or a tablet to control and track everything from the low-energy LED lights to security cameras, smoke detectors and a smart TV, which slips behind bench seating when not in use.
“We didn’t want the technology to be in your face,” Jono says. “You feel the effects, rather than seeing them.”
I test the system: “Google, turn on pendant at 50 per cent in red.” The pendant light above the foldout dining table turns on in a soft ruby glow. I can also set up a command for “Good morning,” to open blinds and put on the kettle, and “Goodbye,” to arm the cameras and turn out the lights. At the touch of a button I can monitor how much energy the solar panels are storing, and see how full the water and waste tanks are.
“You can use everything as separate units, but this system also brings things together into one ‘smart things’ ecosystem,” says Jono, “This not only makes it easy to operate but everything can work together to maximise efficiency.”
“I think this Tiny Home answers a lot of questions as to what makes a home comfortable and sustainable,” says Peter. “It’s a very relevant exercise at the moment, given the current cost of housing, land availability and the state of the environment. Australians are looking for alternative solutions. I really believe there’s a big future in it.”