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Joanna Colpitts

I am a student in 2nd year studying Industrial Design at Emily Carr. Our tiny house project combines the areas of architecture, product design, and interior design, all from the point of view of ecological sustainability.

I primarily wish to address the interior of a tiny home as a system, taking into account the following:

Human Comfort

  • The tiny house strives to cater to the human, not the stuff they happen to own. It inherently forces a person to get rid of clutter by presenting a much smaller footprint than a 'normal' house. I feel that people find a sense of 'home' in the things they own, and I want to explore how a person can create that sense within a reduced amount of stuff. What is it that makes a place feel warm, comfortable, and personalized? I believe that people will gain something from living with less stuff in a tiny home, including a sense of organization and peacefulness. People won't give up things unless they gain something in return.


  • power, heating/cooling, water, food


  • waste, compost, recycling

Relationship to the Community

  • What does the user need from the community? Laundromat? Gym?
  • What space does the house itself occupy in the community, say a laneway or vacant lot?
  • Can the user take advantage of existing systems such as community gardens to meet their fundamental needs?
  • How does the user create a feeling of belonging to a community, what can design do to encourage that?

Visualizing the System

These are some quick diagrams I've made, representing what a person needs in life (Input) and what they produce (Output). I tried to focus on things that are currently considered 'waste', such as grey water, that could be re-used to provide something else they need. By creating a diagram I can see what needs will be fulfilled by the house itself. These could be a great way to get some collaborative input from people, they're quick and easy to do. If you have a chance to draw one yourself, I would love to see it posted! Doing a diagram exclusively of human 'output' was pretty revealing. I found it a lot harder to do, and the concrete items were much fewer. Most of the things on the 'output' chart were things that are generally considered "waste", but with some ingenuity they could actually be used to provide for more of our needs. The other problem was that although we consume lots of food, it's hard to quantify what we actually produce with it aside from living.

Click on the thumbnail for a bigger, readable image.