KOFU – Interest in affordable ‘Tiny Houses’ that have just enough space for a couple or family of three has increased in Japan, with entries for a Tiny House design competition in a central village of Japan which have increased sevenfold over the past three years.
Tiny Houses are defined as small dwellings, typically 20-30 square meters in area, which can be built for around 5 million yen (nearly $ 48,000). Since they don’t use a lot of building materials and it doesn’t take long to build them, the cost of building is cheap. If the occupants are short of space, there is always the possibility of building an additional unit.
Interest in Tiny Houses appears to have been fueled by a change in attitude towards homeownership in the country, especially among the younger generation, with young couples not having many children and singles. looking for a minimalist lifestyle that loves them.
In 2017, a small house design competition was launched by the Yamanashi Prefecture village in Kosuge in collaboration with a local architectural design company and other parties. The idea was to increase the number of small wooden houses in the village and use them as an opportunity to attract young people from urban areas, while increasing the use of the resources of the village’s planted forest. Out of 28 village houses built in the prefecture, eight are tiny houses.
Besides the actual home designs, the competition also allows people to submit only floor plans and concept sketches, along with explanations of the designs’ intentions and the thoughts instilled in them, so that even those who are not. not involved in architecture can apply.
In 2017, there were 49 entries, but the figure rose to 265 in the third competition in 2019, and there were 336 entries this year, which arrived from all over Japan, from the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido to Kagoshima Prefecture in the southwest. In total, 55% of the applicants were undergraduate or graduate university students studying architecture, 35% were architects and other such professionals, and 10% were applicants other than these.
This year, no entry received the grand prize of 300,000 yen (approx. $ 2,900), but four entries received an excellence award of 50,000 yen (approx. $ 480), while two others won prizes. special prizes, also worth 50,000 yen. This year, the “self-sufficient studio” attracted particular attention among the creations, which won the Mayor’s Award, one of the special awards. The design featured a small house surrounded by trees that would allow people to be self-sufficient for their electricity and water needs, through a combination of solar panels, storage batteries, and filtered rainwater. The design is seen as a step forward in the fight against global warming.
As to why the number of entries has increased, 73-year-old architect Takao Wada, head of the competition secretariat, commented, “Due to the declining birth rate, people no longer need large homes, and with the population decline, both urban and regional areas are seeing homes empty. ”He added,“ Rather than devoting their lives to paying off expensive home loans, I guess there are has more people looking for free time that doesn’t leave them financially strapped. ”
(Japanese original by Satoru Yamamoto, Kofu Office)