At UC Berkeley, 25 really smart students are building a house for $25,000. It’s a tiny budget, for a tiny house.
The tiny house is called THIMBY, or Tiny House in my Backyard. Imagine a cabin mounted on a trailer. That’s THIMBY.
THIMBY will be state-of-the-art efficient. It gathers power from the sun and stores it in batteries. It captures and recycles gray water from the shower and sink, and filters it for reuse. It uses a “poop oven” to zap human waste into fertilizer.
With a lofted bed, and space below for cooking, working and showering, THIMBY comfortably fits one or two people. THIMBY’s footprint is about the size of two parking spaces placed end to end. Like many tiny houses these days, it’s built on a trailer.
THIMBY is being built at the Richmond Field Station for a tiny house competition put on by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. The Cal engineers, architects, designers, and physicists are building a showcase of efficient housing design, but they are also building a small, low-cost structure—the kind that is gaining increasing popularity as people explore how tiny houses can fill unused space in cities, house the homeless, and form into villages. THIMBY could become housing for visiting scholars at UC Berkeley’s Global Campus in Richmond.
“We see tiny houses as one potential solution,” says Ian Bolliger, a PhD student and THIMBY’s project manager. “They’re kind of perfect infill units—they can go in existing infrastructure, and if they’re cheap and sustainable, it hits all targets of what you might want in the housing infrastructure of the future.”