In deciding to move back to St Croix, although I had land available, it was up to me to provide a permanent shelter for myself. I decided that I’d like to join the Tiny House community, scattered as they are around the world, and so the plan for the Nid came to be. It is designed to be my full time, fully functional dwelling for however long I may be living on St Croix, but could eventually be used as an office space, guest cottage, etc. In being a “tiny house” the sole concept is minimalism; a very small, very simple space, with everything one needs but nothing extra. Perhaps by building and living in such a dwelling my life shall be gradually shaped into a similar state of minimalism.
At only 212 sq feet, the floor plan is based on an ellipse, lending structural strength and maximizing interior space. The roof is a single arch, again utilizing the strength of a curve whilst providing visual interest and creating a tall, airy living space which allows enough height for a modest sleeping loft. The plan includes a full bathroom with shower and composting toilet, and a full kitchen featuring a counter-top stove and ample space for an under-counter refrigerator. The interior faces of the walls feature built-in shelving for storage, a built-in counter top, and a bench/settee. The front of the building features a double door with a tall window above, whilst the ends and rear each have windows, providing adequate airflow for a hot climate.
The materials include a field-stone foundation, wood posts, light bamboo lathes, reed matting, and cement. This combination of materials is inexpensive, low-impact, and utilize many locally available materials. The method is based off that of Ferro Cement combined with wattle and daub; utilizing the wood, lathes, and matting in place of the steel and steel mesh from ferro, and portland cement in place of daub.
The Nid started as an experiment, and morphed a little over the course of the build. Some parts of it many never be truly “finished”, as needs continually change. The goal was to build the Nid with a maximum expense of 2,000 US dollars in bought materials and with no outside (hired) labour. To this end, many of the materials were scrounged – left over construction supplies, up-cycled items and materials, cut offs, etc – and most of the the sweat and tears over the course of the build were my own, with some skilled and unskilled volunteer labour along the way.
If successful, the idea was for this design and building technique to possibly be used as a low-cost and low-impact means of housing in other parts of the Caribbean, a step back from the often impractical cement-block houses with tin roofs, which require expensive, mass produced materials. In retrospect, there are many simpler ways to build a 200sq foot house, and while building the Nid was an amazing experience that I in no way regret, I would do many things entirely differently were I to do it all again!
Meanwhile, the Nid is serving me in my desire to “live small” in a rewarding, educational, and healthy way! All that digging was a great workout!