The latest product of Japan’s tiny house obsession is the Muji Hut, just unveiled at Tokyo Design Week. In collaboration with top architects and designers — Konstantin Grcic, Jasper Morrison, and Naoto Fukasawa — Japanese bigbox retailer Muji has created a trio of diminutive prefab huts. They’re an example of how contemporary designers and architects are reinventing the prefab house, once considered cheap, as part of a larger effort to make shelter more affordable and environmentally sustainable.
With just enough space and amenities needed for a low-key getaway, these huts are not for the claustrophobic or high-maintenance. But they’re ideal for minimalists — priced starting at $25,000 a pop, the huts can be easily installed nearly anywhere, from forests to riverbanks, offering a cozy “escape from the hustle and bustle of the city,” as Muji puts it on its website, where they’ll be available for purchase starting in 2017.
Each has a sleek design made of one dominant material — wood, aluminum, or cork. Fukasawa’s Wood Hut features floor-to-ceiling glass windows, a wood stove, a tub, cot, and kitchenette. Morrison’s Cork Hut is a boxy structure on a wooden platform, meant as an easily assembled vacation home. Grcic’s Aluminum Hut, with fold-out metal awnings, looks almost like a large storage container or modernist trailer home.
The huts look cute from the outside, but the reality of living in these walk-in-closet sized spaces might, well, suck, as one Portlandia episode illustrates, featuring a man whose toilet doubles as his desk chair. Maybe the tiny house trend won’t kill the McMansion market,after all. If you like these huts but want to save $24,500 on an equally small space, you could always go the route of converting a steel storage container into a studio.
Muji’s Aluminum Hut, designed by Muji and Konstantin Grcic. “My MUJI Hut represents an enclosed is small enough to stay within the norm of constructions which need no building permission in Japan (3 x 3.3 x 4.5m),” Grcic says.
Muji Huts will be available for purchase starting in 2017.