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La Carabane, c'est parti!

I’ve been spending time with a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old. They have become accustomed to me working on the 3d model of the caravan. ‘Sam, elle fait sa carabane!’. I asked them what they would like if they had one. ‘A bed, and a shelf for my books, and a cupboard for my puzzles. And a swingset’. Everyone has their own ideal for what makes a home! It has been a good exercise for me to imagine what is my own minimum necessary equipment for living. Maybe not a swingset, but here is my list. This is what shaped my design.

  1.  Windows. I dream of having a big double door that I can throw open when it’s nice out. Over the bed, I want a skylight so I can hear the rain and see the stars.
  2.  Bed. Yes, this is necessary. Unlike most tiny houses, I don’t want to put the bed in a sleeping loft that is used only for sleeping.
  3.  Table. This is the only piece of mobile furniture in the caravan. It is a multifunctional surface: dining table, desk, kitchen island.
  4.  Bench. A fold-out bench is used as a sofa, a seat for dining, and a guest bed.
  5.  Toilet. I am putting in a composting toilet. Some people are skeptical- will it smell? Will it be a pain to empty? I don’t know, but I know it’s about time we stopped flushing drinking water down the drain. I am going to ventilate the toilet itself with a fan that goes outside, so hopefully that will keep the smells away. I thought long and hard about deciding to have a ‘bathroom’ or not. I liked the idea of having a real bathroom sink and being able to hide the toilet, but in the end two things changed my mind: I found a second-hand stainless-steel countertop that had two kitchen sinks, and partitioning the bathroom made the small space seem awkward and chopped-up. Instead, I’ve decided to use a heavy curtain to privatize the toilet area when necessary. The toilet is hidden in a wooden structure that resembles the bench. 
  6. Kitchen. I’ve been using a two-burner stove and under-counter fridge for the past five years, so a small kitchen doesn’t scare me. The one luxury I am allowing myself is a gas oven as well as a gas stove. I do use the oven quite a lot, whether it’s to roast vegetables or bake cookies. 
  7. Storage. Under the bed and the bench there is empty space to store my things. Beside the door I need a place to put shoes and hang jackets. Behind the kitchen there is a cupboard that will be used as the ‘mechanical’ space, the place where I put the water tanks, circuit breaker, battery, etc.
After deciding on my wants and needs for the interior, I thought about what kind of package to put it in. I knew I wanted a wood structure, because I want to work with wood. I wanted something that was as efficient as possible, but I also wanted room to stand comfortably inside the caravan. I chose this rounded, pitched roof for multiple reasons:
  • Sloped roofs shed water easily
  • When I imagined my ideal sleeping space, I thought of a pitched roof with a skylight overhead
  • The curves along the axis of travel make the form more aerodynamic
For the roof, I am going to use corrugated aluminum panels that are light and durable. The two side walls will be sheathed in wood, which I’m hoping to find second hand. For the interior I initially wanted to look for second-hand boards, but I became convinced by an all-plywood interior to unify the small space.

So here goes- I'm investing my savings, my time, my heart and my hands in this project. It feels like a risk but it also feels right, like it is something I am meant to do.