Will Rooftop Cabins Solve the Urban Housing Crisis?


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We tend to think of cabins as a part of camping, an all-time favorite for fun family vacations. Some 42.5 million Americans spent an average 12.6 days camping throughout 2011 — and while roughing it tent or cabin style can be fun for a while, would you really want to live in one full time?

By now, you’ve probably seen coverage of the “tiny house” phenomenon sweeping the globe, where people elect to live in incredibly small and well-designed spaces. Now, two architects from Berlin are looking to capitalize on that trend and put it where it may be needed most: in densely-populated and housing-starved urban areas.

The project is called Cabin Spacey, and it’s all about putting tiny houses on existing, undeveloped rooftops to create additional living spaces that are eco-friendly to boot. Though these homes are only 250 square feet, they come equipped with a kitchen, dining area, bathroom, and lofted sleeping area.

“We think people don’t need that much space,” said Simon Becker, one of the company’s founders and architects. “If you ask the young person — we think we’re part of the target group, us or even younger people — it’s just different what they need. They don’t say we need space for a car, space for a TV. They say we need an Internet connection, high-quality bed, high-quality shower. And they rather prefer ecological, high-quality spots over space.”

Prime locations and accessibility are no doubt major attractions for young urbanites. These houses are capable of functioning off-the-grid, though if they’re on top of existing structures, it would make just as much sense to tap into the available amenities.

Cabin Spacey’s Indiegogo campaign says the houses should sell for less than 100,000 Euro each, though that doesn’t include the rooftop space itself. Will this simply become another way for slumlords to jack up their property prices, or is it an actual step towards creating more affordable(ish) housing for people in urban areas?

The only way to find out may be to give it a test run. Becker and his partner Andreas Rauch claim there are 55,000 rooftops in Berlin alone that could be used for tiny houses. Would you sign up for one?