I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. – Walden, Thoreau
For 8 years Tom Pollhammer lived in tents and huts camouflaged by vegetation in Berlin’s Plänterwald forest. When a forester discovered his latest tiny home – a cabin just 1.5 meters (less than 5 feet tall) covered in branches and leaves and surrounded by a wall of foliage- he was given one month to move.
His urban forest residency began when he moved to Berlin and found the rental market unreachable (not only the high prices, but the salary minimums imposed by landlords) so he moved into a tent in the forest. Over the years he upgraded his lodging to larger tents, a hut and the final 15 square meter (160 square foot) cabin.
Polhammer admits his secret hideout wasn’t ideal, but it afforded him a dignity he would have forfeited in a homeless shelter so he named his home “The House of Dignity of Man” and wrote it on his door, along with his email address. The name is a reference to article 1 in the Germany constitution which states that the dignity of man is inviolable.
“What does a human need to live in dignity,” he asks, “So you can surely say you need a place to eat, to sleep and to wash… People have the right to have a home, even if it’s a small home.”
With help from the Tiny Foundation, Polhammer has moved his home to a new location (and hopefully the start of the foundation’s tiny house ville) where it now rests on wheels as an art exhibition and the artist has begun building a new, larger, home on wheels.
“That is the way leaves fall around a tree in autumn, a tree unaware of the rain running down its sides, of the sun or the frost, and of life gradually retreating inward. The tree does not die. It waits.” – Herman Hesse