The Tiny House Project: A Collaboration Between The Upcyclist & The Bower
I posted this story a while back, but have refreshed it because so many people are getting interested in tiny houses! James The Upcyclist builds all sorts of things with recycled materials. This project is the Tiny House prototype, in conjunction with The Bower Reuse and Repair Centre in Marrickville, Sydney, made mostly from recycled materials in 2014.
You can take a tour of James and Alicia’s own beautiful tiny house in my sustainable living book available here.
The tiny house movement is a social and architectural movement that advocates simple living in small spaces. Although well established in the USA, the idea has begun to gain momentum in Australia. Many people see tiny house living as an antidote to the increasingly high cost of housing and the culture of consumerism. While small homes are nothing new, the movement has created an architecture and community all of its own.
The Tiny House Project was an experimental build with James and friends providing the design and construction know-how and The Bower providing the recycled materials. The idea was to build a small living space out of recycled materials and along the way expose Sydneysiders to the Tiny House concept, demonstrating what can be done with second hand materials.
James was able to use upwards of 95% recycled materials which came mainly from The Bower, as well as donations from Tiny House supporters, curbside finds and other salvage yards. The materials range from fence palings as exterior trimming, to Tasmanian Oak cupboard doors which were upcycled into the desk and shelving. The small deck is made from pallets and the Western Red Cedar doors and window were treasured finds at The Bower.
The “Tiny” was auctioned to coincide with The Bower’s 15th Anniversary Celebrations with proceeds from the sale split between The Bower and The Upcyclist. James used his share to fund the start-up of a business building tiny houses from recycled materials.
James is passionate about building in the most sustainable way possible. Formerly an Environmental Scientist, he applies his love for the environment to his carpentry work, by building with salvaged materials. He takes great pride in creating beautiful and practical objects without depleting the earth’s resources.
The Bower takes hard waste heading to landfill and makes these items available to the public for reuse. They work to raise awareness of the value of waste reduction and advocate for long life design, repairable products and the use of sustainable, recyclable materials for appliances and furnishings.
In order to keep it simple, the team didn’t tackle building a complete tiny house for this first project. They designed a single person living space, minus a kitchen and bathroom. It’s essentially a backyard studio. The initial design idea was to create an extra living space for a family who had outgrown their existing home.
As the building took shape a number of people expressed interest in using the space as an artist retreat, a home office or even a boutique Airbnb listing. It incorporates a single bed which folds into the rear wall, a desk and some nifty storage options. The Bower’s signature recycled timber boxes were included in the house, serving as both storage and seating. LED Lighting is powered by second hand car batteries and a solar panel. There is also one 240V power point, which acts as a charge station for a laptop.
The house sits on a box trailer, which means it can be considered a temporary structure and doesn’t require council approval. It is fully insulated and water tight. The build took about 2 months, with James working 4-5 days a week with volunteer help. A working bee was held early on, which was both an information day for other tiny house enthusiasts, and a chance to get some extra work done, like sanding and varnishing the beautiful window, and prepping wood for the roof.
As James was working with salvaged materials rather than standard sized materials from the hardware store, it took longer than it otherwise may have. He held off on certain parts of the build, waiting for the right materials to be available – and they always were, eventually. But he says that made it a much more creative and rewarding process.
There are now numerous businesses able to work with you to build a tiny house. You can search for these online in your local area, across Australia.
Photos – all photos by Alicia Fox
Victoria Morphy I thought you might like this!
Like like like X
The boxcar children! U0001f609
What a great holiday hut or guest room
I’d love to have one in the back yard as a personal retreat, just for me. As for living in one permanently – it could never house all my vintage goodies.
me too Sally Anne Campbell x
indeed! Me either The Restful Nest but would be a great studio!
i thought down by the sea Angela Mellows
Here you go Tegan Ashleigh your new house!
Deb Finemore, i know its not a container n u probably wouldnt need steps, but if ur looking at a rustic idea, i reckon these are really cool steps n love the doors U0001f60a
I am regular checker of tiny house site!
that is a great description! it is very cute
I’d like to live in a tiny house like this! Well, maybe a little bigger 🙂
A great craft room:)
Can you put this in your backyard for me wen you buy your house Cathy 🙂
not with 3 adult children, NO! lol
Well I could but what would I do with all my stuff?
Not much house work, that’s very appealing U0001f608
I would love to one day!
In a few years that would sell for big money in Sydney’s real estate market!
Sally Jelbert – tiny art studio in the garden perhaps ?!?
Michael Cameron art studio??
Art studio/library/garden shed – I need this in my life!
Flick Schmitt love this
I need a Lady Shack.
I wanna try this as I’ve got a trailer sitting in the orchard just waiting for a project like this Flick, so inspired
Love it put it on my Christmas list
Golden plains? Kyran Kelly
That’s pretty cool.
Katie Edwards don’t you think that this totally resembles our prototype we made in third year? U0001f633
Caitlin McCarroll, maybe we could build you this.
Right you are 😉
Lee Chapman we need to make you these pallet steps just to put out on your adventures x
I don’t want to over capitalize on the van. It has a step. If one day I live in it we shall get our tools out then
This is just Devine pop the little cottage in the middle of knowhere and I’d be in absolute heaven as long as I had my cards and contact with my Maggie Belle I’d be sweeeeet
Me too Alice .. Is as a little Morrie truck done up as one .. Looked like a snail … How simple ! House in wheels cheap and see the country … I pair of shoes . Buy new ones when they wear out
It’s just a pallet Lee U0001f61c
isn’t it lovely!
Yes ! No Problem !
On your own, yes! As a family, no! I’ve lived in one growing up, I couldn’t breathe. Very constricting.
Russell Synnott can you please help me build this??? U0001f64fU0001f3fbU0001f64fU0001f3fbU0001f64fU0001f3fbU0001f64fU0001f3fbU0001f64fU0001f3fb please please please
Rik McElroy ~ blue trailer?
have one in the back yard as a personal retreat, just for me. As for
living in one permanently – it could never house all my vintage goodies.
Lol. Another idea Jasmine Evans-Boylen! Hehehe.
Lilla Barrett this is cute
Wow so cool
I love that
I really love it Alex, how much per night?
Linda new accommodation for Symon lol
Way too flash!!
Karlie you inspire me to be more creative
So doing it. Just got everything ready for dog kennel tomorrow lol.
Michael Newman could we build this ?
Scott Feldt this is what I was thinking for that trailer
I would love that to have coffee n smoke my cave ☺☺☺