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Tiny House Tour

It's bigger than a movement

Reviewed by Nora Ankrum, Fri., March 15, 2013

SXSW Film Conference Quick Cuts
Photo by Sandy Carson

SXSW Film Conference Quick Cuts

Tiny House Tour

Sunday, March 10, Rollins

Tiny houses aren't just houses – they're a movement. A vibrant online community attests to this fact, more visibly perhaps than the tiny houses themselves, which are often hidden in backyards or rural outcroppings where code enforcement can't find them. Apparently, county and city codes commonly establish a lower limit for allowable square footage of homes, with 600 square feet being a typical minimum. To get around this constraint, "tiny home" dwellers – including TINY: A Story About Living Small co-director and star Christopher Smith – tend to build on wheels, so that their abodes fall under RV rules rather than those for buildings with foundations. These houses are often constructed with reclaimed materials; outfitted with gray water systems, composting toilets, and solar panels; and designed by creative, forward-looking architects. As such, their selling points rest comfortably in a nexus of affordability, sustainability, and aesthetic appeal. They tend to be darling, almost like tiny Disney cottages; they also tend to allow the natural landscape around them to take a starring role.

Before Saturday's premiere screening of TINY, visitors to the Long Center were able to tour a real-life tiny house, parked conveniently out front. Owned by Kyra Deprez of Austin company Boardwalk Cleaning, the house serves as office space but is currently on sale and outfitted for would-be dwellers.

As Merete Mueller says in the film, decisions about "where we fit in" may be harder today than they once were simply because there are so many options: city vs. country, on- vs. off-grid, rent vs. buy, etc. A tiny house not only underscores our many options but offers an alternative way to fit in to just about any of them. Moreover, as one "tiny houser" attests in the film, these homes tend to "interrupt" the cycle of consumerism to which so many of us are accustomed, potentially opening up a surprising amount of "room" for other things in life – such as relationships. Tiny houses may be small, but their implications are anything but.

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