In the previous blog I stated my first reason that the GeoStudio won the People’s Choice Award was because of the feeling of spaciousness. The shape of this structure allows enough space to have several friends over, to do yoga and if one is inclined to jump on a mini-trampoline.
The second reason it was People’s Choice is I believe, simply because it was heated. It was a cool damp day and on those days few things feel better than to come inside a space that is not only occupied but offers a relief from the dampness. The atmosphere of warmth, music from a laptop and enough comfort to keep a half dozen people in conversation made the dome a “totally habitable space that I could invite my friends right now” experience.
Third reason, “this is cute!”. These were probably the most common words spoken as people entered. (Guys were more likely to say “cool”.) Personal admission here, it helps to have someone with an artistic flare help with the decor. The dome had a lot of finishing touches for which I alone cannot take credit. Also, her recommended colours created an eye catching exterior that couldn’t go unnoticed. And my friend Dan, a pretty technical kind of guy himself, insisted “it needs to be purrdy”. I listened.
Fourth, unique appearance. While most geodesic domes occupy the greenhouse realm fewer become houses and fewer yet become tiny houses. This is totally a one-of-a-kind.
Next blog: Critical Tiny Living Issues that need to be addressed.
The GrowCalgary Tiny House competition has come and gone. GeoStudios is proud to announce the ‘tiny dome house’ got People’s Choice Award. It was an honour to be chosen by the people!
To my competitors; excellent work in stepping forward and pushing the envelope. We need more pioneers in this area. More innovators. More people willing to raise awareness about the importance of affordable and sustainable housing.
While full marks go to the Hempshire team for putting out a really cool and progressive tiny house featuring cutting edge technologies such as hemp insulation and hemp exterior, pv power, rubber roof shingles, passive solar design and thermal mass not to mention excellent craftsmanship and Van Gogh inspired artwork - it missed out on a few key features that prevented a clean sweep in the competition on Sept 15th.
Turns out, people felt the GeoStudio hit it out of the park so to speak. Here’s the reasons I think that happened.
First off, spaciousness. People regularly said the dome looks bigger on the inside than it does on the outside. There were times when 10 people stood or sat inside without discomfort. Fact is, on shape alone any round structure has ‘the stuff’ around the perimeter walls while the open centre allows for more free-standing space. And if some of the stuff is fold down seats or benches then yeah it feels like there’s plenty of room. Throw in an high arched ceiling and that feeling of claustrophobia is eliminated. It suddenly becomes a space that people could envision living in.
Next blog: two more reasons why the GeoStudio earned high marks.
OFFER: The use of one GeoStudios dome for one night in a campsite in an off grid area with a natural spring and 50 steps to a river. The campsite is close to a newly built outhouse, there is a fire pit and a propane barbecue available. Plenty of firewood. It's a little rustic. Stay here for $35/night. OR offer your help and you stay for no charge.
REQUEST: We're building an ecovillage in a campground! We seek people who want to help us create a year round off grid getaway. We're looking for people wanting to spend time here and help us create that by sharing their talents. As long as you can share your skills, you can stay at no charge. We’re looking for people who are not only interested in alternate off-grid living but people who are willing to do something to make it a reality.
There is a long list of things to do. Some projects will be broken down into simpler tasks so you can enjoy some free time at the campsite. There may be other people around helping out - extra hands make lighter work! Here is only a beginning list of what we want to make; rock garden, solar shower, outdoor quiet space, compost areas, tree care, deck building for riverfront viewing, creating a beautiful garden space, finding a means of keeping the deer from eating the vegetables, a food forest, a “water ram” to irrigate those gardens, organizing future events and more.
As these sustainable permaculture projects get completed you will get to know the others involved and hopefully want to spend still more time there. There will be "work records" kept and those acquiring “seniority” will get first dibs on time blocks. That’s why it’s wise to get involved now - and really, little to lose if you decide to not to continue. BTW, if you just need quiet time let me know - the rate is presently at $35/night. Presently there is room for two adults and in a pinch, two adults and a child.
By now you may see that the bigger picture is about creating an ecovillage in a campground. And we’re doing it by exchanging people’s efforts for stays in the dome. Lots of work to do!
TO LEARN MORE: I need to know/meet anyone who wants to contribute their special skills to move this to the next level. My philosophy is that we all have something to contribute so if you tell me you don’t have a skill to share I will probably disagree. :)
Call me, we'll have coffee. 403.593.2030.
One life, live it well.
Naively, I thought this meeting would be an opportunity to share ideas on how tiny houses could be built and how new technologies could make this a practical and viable housing option. Instead, this meeting was about what we CAN'T do.
First, in Calgary tiny houses in a backyard will be under the same provisions as ‘secondary suites’ which are under the regular rules of the Alberta Building Code part 9. Which also apply to regular housing. Which then means our tiny houses must follow the same rules as that of a 5000 sq ft 'McMansion'.
This is unrealistic and unworkable in so many cases. From ceiling height to door size to window egress - the rules completely alter the whole reason for building tiny - to make life more affordable. What we need is a separate category in the ABC for tiny houses just as there are separate guidelines for RV’s and for mobiles and for condominiums.
So after listening to a litany of restrictions and conditions with regards to windows, egress, engineering, etc, I finally chimed in, "You know this will cut the tiny house movement at the knees right? The cost of a tiny house will go from $10-15 thousand to over $40,000 dollars. For those who are driving this engine, people who want to live sustainably, simply and affordably such as millennials and seniors, they are prevented from buying a tiny house."
Fact is folks, real change does not come from those who follow the rules. Innovation comes about by people who are not afraid to ruffle a few feathers and go against the grain. The tiny house movement will not go away just because some want them to be more like houses. But the movement will grow because people want affordability, do not want to be locked into a lifetime of debt, want to live simply and want a more sustainable solution to housing ourselves. There is a purpose and a reason for why this is happening today.
Being one who values reusing and re-purposing I knew that Nail & Hammer was founded on the very same principles. And being locally owned and operated was another plus, in my books. So, an obvious choice when I set out to find reliable suppliers was this place owned by Allan and Teresa Stalker.
So when was the last time you saw a 26” wide exterior door? They are virtually non-existent. But there it was metal skin, foam insulated in a comfy space at Nail & Hammers new location, 525 39th St N. This find was truly a gift!
So not only did Nail & Hammer donate this rare door to the cause of placing a tiny house in the Grow Calgary microhome competition - but they cut the door based on design specs I provided.
Many thanks to Allan -who loves a challenge- and the crew at Nail & Hammer! When working with geodesic domes it’s always good to have someone around who enjoys the creative process of inventing and building new stuff. :)
Gilles Leclair is the founder of GeoStudios. Somewhat eccentric, fairly environmentalist, politically aware, he believes the world should have more off-grid communities... many more.