Reimagining the Backyard: A Tiny House on Wheels in the Suburbs – Brisbane, Australia

G’day! Imagination, that’s probably one of the common points that link every human being in this globe!

How many different ways of living, cultures, exist in the world? Innumerous right? That’s because we, human beings, are constantly altering and creating reality. It’s our superpower, even though many still have no idea how to access it in a more conscious way. I personally believe we have he capacity to alter the environment, to alter reality, instead of waiting for some pre-made solutions coming from somewhere, or someone, else.

Another very interesting word that stuck in my mind these days is “symbiosis“. Symbiosis is the capacity that different species have to cooperate, in a biological way, in order to achieve a common goal or to overcome a difficulty. We can find many examples of this relationship in nature, involving the most distinct species.

We, designers, are trained to create in a more structured (or sometimes not) way and end up with complex concepts which reflect an academical way of thinking. However, that doesn’t mean that a common person, without former education, wouldn’t be able to create great designs as well. Today we see people everywhere being creative and caring completely alternative types of lives, living in urban areas or rural lands.

The suburb in its way has been reimagined many times by common people who cannot afford the Real Estate high prices of these days, in other words “informally” occupying land in ways which are not necessarily legally approved by the state. I could talk about many examples of informal settlements from my home country, Brazil, starting from the ‘favelas‘.  However, now I ‘d like to talk about this particular group of designers I’ve met recently, whom have created an interesting idea for urban residential formal occupation located in Brisbane, capital of the state Queensland, Australia. Perhaps a good example of human “symbiosis”.

It’s already well known about the housing crisis this country has been facing lately, with people not having enough purchasing power to acquire the first house, or apartment due the market’s very high prices, especially in the central areas. Not to mention the high renting prices. We have already talked about those topics in previous posts in this Blog: Renew Fest and Tiny Houses. Thereby, alternatives such as Tiny Houses became so popular lately, with events being organised throughout the country to uniquely discuss about this topic. Yes, and I’ve been to one of those events last weekend, The Tiny House Road Show, last May the 22nd in Maleny, Queensland. That’s where I’ve heard about “ESC Consulting“.

Most people need a shelter, everyone knows that. And that becomes the main goal in life for many of us, making us even forget about our biggest planetary shelter , the Planet Earth (and quite often personal relationships as well). The way we’ve been treating the planet in order to extract survival products (food, etc) and construction materials is far from sustainable and is starting to show itself a nightmare cycle as per latest news regarding shortage in basically everything, such as “The World Economy Is Suddenly Running Low on Everything“. The impact caused by human activities to the planet’s wild life is also gigantic, check out Our Planet, by David Attenborough and have a better idea of this process. Thus, facing all those challenges how could we act? How could we reimagine a more balanced way of dealing with nature and reconnect with it?

I guess some answering are already coming to the surface and becoming visible, we just need to really open the eyes and face reality. ‘ESC Consulting’, a design practice from Brisbane, Australia, is trying to do this work somehow. The team formed by an Environmental Planner (Rikki Pieters) and an Environmental Manager (Valerie Bares) got involved last year in a project which they entitle as “Reimagining the Backyard – A Tiny House on Wheels in the Suburbs“. They’ve documented the entire journey and simply made it available through their website for anyone to download it.

One of the biggest challenges of the Tiny House’s movement is the regulation of land in urban areas. The ‘ESC Consulting’ project try to address this issue and make the occupation viable and formalised taking into consideration local council legislations, in this case, Brisbane City Council (BCC). As per their own words the project objectives are:

  • Preserving the Backyard while addressing housing pressure;
  • Contributing to Sustainable Communities;
  • Enhancing Social Connection, particularly for older people.

The project is really well-grounded and very detailed, including physical and planning analysis. It involves basically building stronger local neighborhood connections; food safety and support in extreme weather events; inclusion and integration of different types/age groups; and support for affordable housing.

I kindly invite you to go through the material and have a taste of how much powerful our imaginations and capacity to co-create reality can be. What if projects like this get viral around the world and we could finally make a better use of urban land producing organic food, reconnecting with nature and having more solidary neighborhoods? How would our cities look like? Can you already feel it? Can you already touch it? I can! 🙂

“Mind conjures miracles out of time.” – Terence McKenna



Important Sources:

Australian Tiny Houses Association




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