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Clever microhome perches over compact food forest outside Barcelona

At just 8 square meters (86 square feet), a clever micro-house outside Barcelona extends far beyond its footprint with a large deck, a wood-burning sauna, a Win Hof method ice bath, and a permaculture food forest providing enough produce for a family of four.

Noah, the home’s owner, wanted something minimal, but tailored to his particular lifestyle so the entire house is built for healthy living using all natural materials like plywood for furniture, natural stone panels for the bathroom and cotton, hemp and wood-fibre for insulation. The space is also customized for electrosensitive people, so all cables are grounded and there are built-in RJ-45 ethernet ports for the Internet. All lighting is indirect with clever use of plywood to recess lights.

The home has a water reserve tank and battery system so that once unplugged there is off-grid autonomy for four days in terms of water and energy. Builder Antoine Grillon of Serena Tiny House says the Freeland is the tiniest home he’s ever built, but it’s also the most high end. The bathroom has a heated towel rack, a rainwater shower and a sleek stainless steel composting toilet that slides out when needed and that can convert to a squat toilet (Noah is originally from Iraq). The kitchen is equipped with high-end – albeit compact – appliances and the huge windows use hydraulic tech borrowed from the car industry for easy opening and closing.

Permaculture designer Aline Van Moerbeke of La Casa Integral helped Noah design a food forest adapted to the dry and rocky soil. Since the property is small and water is in short supply (the tiny house roof is too small for much water capture), everything is planted with food or medicinals. Much of the food is planted in raised beds in order to build the soil (composting is being done on site) and for easier access to the plants. The garden is designed using companion planting and stacking functions to take advantage of the tight space.

“Permaculture often gets mistaken for permanent agriculture as a limited concept, only agriculture,” explains Van Moerbeke, “But what we are aiming at is to design ecosystems as a whole and not just our food production so if we’re saying we want to have at least 10% or 20% of our own living system a productive system then that means that we want to be moving away from a consumer system so we need to also change our economy, we need to change our behavior, so we want to be changing the use of resources that may or may not be available in our ecosystem so I’m talking about water or sun.”