Tiny Houses

thinking small

cityLAB believes that building small houses could make a big impact, and we will begin studying how to bring Tiny Houses to Garfield in late 2013. The idea of Tiny Houses was one outcome of our 2011 6% Place book, which examined how Garfield and Garfield residents could benefit from a systematic effort to grow the neighborhood’s creative capital and attract new residents. cityLAB has recently been awarded a grant by the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development to bring this idea to fruition.

a tiny presentation

Here’s a presentation that cityLAB gave at our Tiny Houses brainstorming session in Garfield on December 3, 2013 to kick things off. (Read about where we heard on the Tiny Houses blog and see some photos from the brainstorming session on our Facebook page!)

why tiny houses?

Soon-to-be vacant parcels along Rosetta Street in Garfield. Image courtesy of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation.

Tiny Houses respond to several issues identified by cityLAB along with our partners at the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation. First of all, Garfield is bracing itself for an increase in vacant land over the next five years with the pending demolition of several unsalvageable vacant houses, including many along Rosetta Street. cityLAB believes that Tiny Houses will help to fill the holes in the neighborhood’s fabric more quickly than conventional houses, since they will be more affordable to build, and that they will reach a new market more effectively, since they will be more affordable to purchase and maintain.

an incubator for alternative housing

Pittsburgh average price per square foot

Another reason why cityLAB thinks that Tiny Houses may be a good idea for Garfield is that buying or building a new house is an increasingly expensive proposition in Pittsburgh. With Tiny Houses, cityLAB wants to create an entry market of inexpensive homes in Garfield so that Garfield becomes a destination for a type of housing that people can’t find anywhere else—in effect to make Garfield an alternative housing incubator. cityLAB thinks that Tiny Houses will draw people to Garfield because of the quirkiness, sustainability, and thrift embodied in living small.

garfield’s assets

Research shows that many people are interested in living smaller. A 2013 study by the Urban Land Institute, America in 2013, reported that more than half of the Americans surveyed prefer neighborhoods that are close to shops, have a mix of incomes, and have public transportation; 61% of respondents said they would prefer a shorter commute and a smaller home to a longer commute and a larger home. Garfield has many of the amenities that respondents prefer, with its accessibility to public transportation, central location, and community assets. With the funding received for this project, cityLAB will research and define the Tiny House market in Garfield (and Pittsburgh) and design, develop, and price three Tiny House designs.

the tiny house movement


Small houses by Anonymous Architects and Brett Zamore Design.

The small house movement drew attention during the recent financial crisis, as small houses offer affordable acquisition and maintenance costs and are ecologically friendly. The small house movement is an architectural and social movement that advocates living simply in small homes. Many small houses range in size from 350 to 900 square feet.

what’s next?

cityLAB has decided, with our friends at the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, to build Garfield’s first Tiny House and blog about the process to create a manual for others to follow. Keep up with the project as it unfolds with our Tiny House journal!

let’s get small!

Tiny Houses is the latest in a series of projects related to the 6% Place, including the Garfield Creative Census and the Garfield Night Market, that cityLAB has embarked on with the 6% Place advisory committee and our partners at the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation. If you want to know more about the project, get involved by emailing info@citylabpgh.org or by calling us at 412 434-7080 ext. 705.



other experiments