The next big thing in housing is actually small.

By Laura Schocker
Updated March 16, 2016
Laura Schocker

The average new single family home in the United States is more than 2,000 square feet. But could you live in a tenth of that? That’s the idea behind the latest trend in tiny homes: Kasita, which won a 2016 SXSW Innovation Award on Tuesday. The company produces portable, prefabricated smart homes that are just over 200 square feet. The aim is to provide more affordable housing in urban environments.

The idea came from Houston-Tilloston University Professor Jeff Wilson, who spent a year living in a 33 square-foot dumpster (read the full story here). Wilson, now known as “Professor Dumpster,” sold most of his possessions for $1 and slowly transformed the waste bin into a livable space—and then applied his findings (what he calls the “dumpster epiphany”) to create Kasita. “This is the ultimate tiny home,” he told during a tour of the 208 square-foot East Austin prototype at SXSW.

Wilson’s idea was to “make an iPhone I can live in.” The homes feature dynamic glass that tints for privacy and temperature control and come equipped with “smart” technology, including Amazon Echo and a Nest thermostat. A Casper queen-sized mattress is folded into the couch to maximize space, and a washer/dryer and dishwasher are included, too. The company is working on modular designs for clocks, bookshelves, televisions, and mirrors.

In Austin, Kasita will be available to live in beginning late 2016—and the company is in talks with developers in San Francisco, New York, Dallas, Houston, San Diego, Chicago, and Atlanta. The homes can be placed in a “rack” with other Kasitas—like an urban, stackable trailer park—or they can stand alone. They’re portable and can be shipped from location to location, meaning someone could live in one during graduate school, for instance, and then ship it to the next city for his or her first job (assuming both cities have a rack available).

While pricing won’t be public until next month, Wilson promises it will beat rent prices in big cities. And people will have the option to rent or buy, both the Kasita itself and the rack space.

With plenty of natural light and a clever design, the Kasita felt deceptively large (particularly the bathroom, especially by New York City standards). While we can’t imagine living there with another person, for single Millennials or even seniors—both target audiences, according to Wilson—it sure seems like it would beat three random Craigslist roommates.

Check out the inside here:

Laura Schocker