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Could this £120,000 collapsible tiny home solve Britain’s housing crisis?
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Could this £120,000 collapsible tiny home solve Britain’s...


You could literally, move house (Credits: Klaus Fengler)

Imagine moving house where you do just that – literally lifting a small, contained living space and transporting it to your next destination.

Well, that’s a reality in the German city of Munich, where a new property concept sees living hubs that can sit snugly on top of another building’s roof, but also be taken with the owner if they decide to move – no more estate agent costs or stress of buying a new place.

Created by German start-up Vagabundo, the Flex takes the concept of tiny houses, which have exploded in popularity, and creates something that has less in common with a shoebox and more in line with a proper house.

For starters, the Flex is a two-storey home, with a ceiling height of 2.4m (7ft 9in), and the upper floor is collapsible for transportation.

Co-founder of Vagabundo, Andreas Müllner, explains that its footprint of just 14sq m (150sq ft) allows it to be fitted into small urban spaces and even in the gardens of existing properties, planning rules permitting.

‘We wanted to reinvent the classic tiny house concept and come at it from a different perspective,’ says Andreas, an industrial engineer who helped set up the company three years ago. ‘We weren’t sure if it wasn’t too depressing living in some of the really tiny houses. We wanted something where you can breathe.’

Inside there are hardly any visible walls. Instead, windows run almost all around the Flex, giving a connection to nature and more sense of space.

Total floor space – which is heated by electric underfloor heating with smart home thermostat – for both levels is 28sq m (301sq ft).

German start-up Vagabundo wanted to recreate the tiny house into a home (Picture: Klaus Fengler) The Flex can go with you if you need to change location (Picture: Klaus Fengler) Windows run almost all around the Flex, giving a connection to nature and more sense of space (Credits: Klaus Fengler)

The kitchen/dining area is on the ground floor and Andreas and his fellow co-founders, Luca Knipp (architect) and Michael Leitner (industrial engineer), decided to equip the kitchen, which sports minimalistic lines and oak fittings, with products from German company BORA. The upper level, with quality oak parquet flooring, serves as the main living space.

There is a combined snug and work area with porthole and panoramic windows, plus a double bed.

The built-in furniture is filled with hidden storage space, with a view to minimising clutter.

With an aluminium façade and wooden frame construction with wood fibre insulation, this micro-house has the same lifespan as any typical home and could, in theory, stay with the owner for a lifetime.

The big question is: what is it like to live in a smaller space?

Andreas says it takes a little getting used to but once you are settled, life becomes a lot simpler. ‘It has a lot of consequences, you have to be more organised, you have to think about what you need, so minimalism is a big thing,’ he says.

‘A sharing economy is important to build with it. Which things in life can you share? It makes it so much more sustainable in the end. It’s a big change to have less space but once you get used to it, it makes a lot of sense.’

Vagabundo think flexibility is key in the future (Picture: Klaus Fengler) Total floor space for both levels is 28sq m (301sq ft) (Picture: Klaus Fengler) The upper level has quality flooring and a combined snug and work area (Picture: Klaus Fengler)

Andreas believes the Flex and homes like it could provide at least a partial answer to a housing shortage such as Britain’s.

‘This is one of the opportunities to solve problems with the current housing situation. Prices go up and up and there are not enough properties. There are lots of niche places that it could fit and on top of that, young people don’t know where they want to live in the future but want to invest their money now.

‘They don’t know what will happen or where they want to live and then there are factors like the war in Europe. There are so many uncertainties, so flexibility is key in the future.’

Tiny houses have been booming in popularity since the pandemic. One survey suggests more than half of Americans would consider living in a tiny home and 86 per cent would consider buying a micro property as their first home.

Andreas projects that this two-level house could cost somewhere in the region of £120,000 to £130,000 and would take four to five months in production time and one day to install on a piece of land.

In the UK, however, depending on where you live, a change in policy as well as public mindset would be needed.

The Flex and homes like it could provide an answer to a housing shortage such as Britain’s (Picture: Klaus Fengler) Flex which comes to the market next year aims to offer fast solutions to housing shortages and a high quality of living (Picture: Klaus Fengler) The house is collapsible and transportable able to move where you do (Picture: Klaus Fengler)

At the moment, the Flex would not meet the minimum floor area standard that’s advised, and in some areas insisted upon, for new homes.

Although the minimum space standard is in theory ‘optional’, across London, for example, it has been written into the Local Plan and any new-build house or flat conversion must be at least 39sq m if one storey, while a two-storey home should offer 58sq m. The Flex is 28sq m.

Among those proudly building properties at the smaller end of the market is London developer Pocket Living.

Its Forest Road E17 scheme in Waltham Forest has one-bedroom self-contained apartments of 37sq m. Pocket Living prides itself on offering energy-efficient homes sold with a 20 per cent discount for first-time buyers.

Meawhile, the Vagabundo Flex is scheduled to reach the market next year, says Andreas. ‘Tiny houses are not the solution but they are part of it,’ he says. ‘The housing market needs fast solutions and a high quality of living, which we enable with our products made in Germany.

‘A flexible living solution which fits in many different spaces and properties is perfect – you have just the right amount of space for your everyday needs.’

bora.com

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