Monastic, modular, marvelous, and mini are four words that could be used to describe EDGE (Experimental Dwelling for a Greener Environment), a pint-sized — that's 480 square feet — abode that, after being erected, disassembled, and moved three times, has settled in the boonies of Bayfield, Wisc.

Technically, the EDGE can't even be considered a proper house in much of Wisconsin where building standards dictate that a residence must be at least 750 or 800 square feet. As Journal Sentinel writer Mary Louise Schumacher aptly puts it: "It is more akin to a lovingly crafted cabinet or piece of furniture than a house, really."

Despite its micro-size, the AIA award-winningRevelations Architects-designed home (originally it was built as a 3-D teaching model meant to challenge the notion that "bigger is always better") manages to pack in numerous green features including geothermal heating and cooling, a rainwater harvesting system, passive solar design, and perhaps most notably, huge louvered doors designed to keep the home insulated. 
Inside, the interiors are sleek and modern with modular birch plywood furniture that can be reconfigured to suite the inhabitants' needs whether it's sleeping, entertaining, dining or lounging. Says Revelations of the EDGE: "It is the first of its kind, but will most certainly not be the last."

Head on over to the Journal Sentinel to read "Tiny House, big questions," Schumacher's first-hand account of spending the night in the EDGE. It's a fantastic piece — accompanied by an also-fantastic video that gives a full tour of the home — in which Schumacher ponders the nature of downsized living. She wraps up the article nicely with some good food for thought: 

There are a few contradictions in the design of the EDGE. First, while designed to make downsizing more desirable, by no fault of the architects, it is likely to appeal to many as a second home or summer cottage rather than a new way of living. And, while it has many green features, it’s created for a large parcel of land. The EDGE doesn’t address the need for density, for humans to occupy less of the planet, though it’s possible some of the design ideas may translate to urban settings.

But this is quibbling. The experience of staying at the EDGE has remained large in my mind. In the end, this petite home asks a monumental question: What do we truly need to be happy? More than that, it suggests that it may be a lot less than we imagine.

 Via [Jetson Green], [The Journal Sentinel]

Images: Revelations Architects/Dan Hoffman Photography

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Living in the EDGE
Tour a prefab Wisconsin home called EDGE where a maximum amount of style and function is packed into a minimal amount of space.