Like any other highly developed nation, Sweden — an enchanted land where boats are used as backyard guest cottages and wooden pods have replaced traditional college dormitories — is home to a stringent set of building codes.
However, regulations have eased in recent years and, as a result, Sweden has experienced a rise in the Attefallshus, a type of “supplemental housing” named in honor of housing minister Stefan Attefall that can be erected on residential properties without the need for a pesky permit. That is, no permit is needed provided that the resulting structure rings in at under 25 square meters (roughly 270 square feet). Anything larger would require one.
While many Swedes have jumped on the Attefallshus craze, 25 square meters doesn’t offer a whole lot of living space. And so, a group of student designers at Full Scale Studio, an architectural master’s program at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, have devised quite the workaround: a more spacious tiny house that’s actually two permit-free tiny houses combined.
As a whole, the 40 square meter (about 430 square feet) residence would indeed need an official permit — and the miles of bureaucratic red tape that come along with securing one. But since one half of the structure has wheels, and can be easily rolled away from the other, larger half, the entire thing circumvents permitting.
Here’s the thing: the two sections must be separated — by just a smidge, really — at least once every six months for it to successful bypass Sweden’s housing laws. Sneaky, sneaky.
The project itself is dubbed the Friggatto, a portmanteau composed of Sweden’s two permit-free housing types: the aforementioned Attefallshus and its even more compact predecessor, the Friggebod. Required to be 15 square meters (160 square feet) or under, the Swedish government first started to allow Friggebod construction in 2008.
At 40 square meters, the Friggatto combines the maximum square footage allowed by these permit-less housing types.
The “Atto” section is obviously of the larger of the two and was constructed on the cheap using primarily pine plywood with reclaimed mahogany flooring and a host of salvaged, secondhand and locally sourced building materials. Functioning as an open studio space and outfitted with a nice little woodstove, Atto’s wood-clad exterior is artfully charred in traditional Japanese style (shou-sugi-ban). Permit-dodging aside, it’s a lovely and economical little space.
Joining Atto is “Frigg,” a moveable 15 square meter tiny house that’s also built from pine plywood along with a range of affordable materials. The black leather flooring wouldn’t quality as low-cost in most circumstances but as Full Scale Studio points out, it was a gift.
When it comes time to separate Frigg from its larger sibling, the entire structure can be moved along a flat metal rail “single-handedly (with some struggle) or by two people (smoothly).”
The plywood exterior of the Frigg was treated with tar which, as Full Scale Studio explains, was a decision that ultimately proved to be problematic: “Due to the massive amount of tar added on the building the smell of the studio members could be scented from a far distance, making it somewhat hard to go by public transportation due to the angry eyes of fellow passengers.”
And as for the gap that’s left between the two structures when they’re moved apart, Full Scale Studio notes that it can serve as an outdoor workspace during the summer months. If it rains, a tarp — said tarp has to be 50 percent transparent in compliance with permitting rules — can be used to cover the in-between space.
Full Scale Studio elaborates on the logistics of Sweden’s permitting laws and how Friggatto ingeniously avoids them:
When moving the ‘Frigg’ it equals a vehicle. But if it sits still more than six months at the same place, it is labelled a house. If the volume is standing separately, i.e. not physically connected to another house and with the possibility to walk around it, providing the possibility to maintain it, then the volume is permit free and no municipal fee is charged. If it stands next to another house it needs to have a permit. Therefore the 15m² house will stand next to the 25m² for six months before you need to move it a bit and then connect again. This law suits Full Scale Studio quite well since we needed a bigger indoor-space during the winter and a roofed outdoor area during the warmer months to do other full-scale projects.
In all, Friggatto cost only 16000 euros (about $18,000) to construct. However, keep in mind it was designed and built by students using largely donated/recycled materials and no money was spent on labor or land. In a non-academic context, such a structure would cost considerably more to build, which has led Full Scale Studio to refer to it as “ perhaps one of the cheapest houses built in Sweden but also one of the most expensive ones depending on how you count.”
The student designers at Full Scale Studio certainly aren’t the only ones having fun playing around with Sweden’s permitting rules. Dezeen recently profiled Waterfall House, a conceptual Attefallshus with code-compliant eaves that double as a massive outdoor shower.
Related on MNN:
- Swedish artist wants to put tiny house on the moon
- Behold, your Finnish micro-cabin fantasies come true
- Student-built tiny house features manure-based heating system