I had the unique opportunity today to try out a project that came to mind on a cold February tramp last year along a barren stretch of highway just outside a major populated area. I noticed that we (here in Canada) had vast tracts of land that were just sitting there doing nothing. But it is cold in the winter at the 42nd parallel, and it can go down to -25 Celcius, so that means that anything that we live in has to be insulated well.
I had been installing some board and batten siding on a house on a workaway project the last few days using 1" x 10" pine, very easy to work with, and there some scrap pieces available. I had chosen a 1 3/8" width for part of that project and asked if I could try something out. I had mind a 6' x8' size, but saw that would be too big. So I brought it down to a 4' inside width and a 7' inside length. That would give me 5' x 8' outside dimensions with a 6" thick wall, giving about an R40 if that were insulated. This would be inside the footprint of a larger vehicle, which I had measured at 5.5' wide and more than 8' long. It would also fit on the back of a standard pick up truck, though the sides would have to fit over the truck sides.
The other aspect of the design I had been thinking about was a bank barn. These have normal walls, but two angles for the roof, the first (bottom) one being steeper. After some fiddling, I ended up with 24" x 1 3/8" lengths for the vertical part or the wall, 20" lengths for the bottom, steeper part of the roof, and 16" lengths for the shallower part of the roof. When placed on 14" stilts for the interim, this gave a 58" height at the peak of the roof. With 6" insulation for the roof and 6" below the current floor, plus reducing the clearance by an inch or so, this would then result in the "perfect" height of 68". This height would clear a parking garage ceiling, and would allow the driver of a *tractor* pulling it to see over the top.
The importance of this approach is that it comes about using local materials, tools, ideas and structures. That is, one of the goals is to achieve growth that is "harmonic" and fits within the existing, local resource and skill set. The small, insulated size provides enough room for one or two people, but the reduced height "encourages" time out of doors, which is healthier. Yet there is enough room to crawl in there on a rainy day and punch away at a laptop if need be. The compact size and height looks balanced and the front portion is dropped by four inches for better airflow if tucked in behind a van or 4x4.
Not bad for some extra time off given by trying out a four hour a day work day. As they say, in the scientific approach, follow the data! Now, all I need to do is snag a tractor somewhere and build a smaller version to trail along behind for kiddie(s) and pets. Let me see, should be one around here somewhere...