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Talking Point: Small but perfectly formed

KYLIE BELL: The environmentally friendly future of housing is here

Originally published in The Mercury on 15 September 2017.


THIS Sunday is Sustainable House Day.


It’s an opportunity for Tasmanians to visit some of our leading green homes and to get inspired by dwellings that are not just environmentally friendly, but also cheaper to run and more comfortable to live in.

It is also an opportunity to reflect on the role each of us plays in protecting and nurturing the planet upon which we depend. Is planning for sustainability something that can be left solely to the policymakers and politicians or is it something that we, as individuals, can control?


Our own ethos and behaviour affect the way we experience our environment, but there is no doubt the vast majority of us, at some level, want to protect the environment, experience a world of beauty and live in unity with nature.


Thankfully, a confluence is emerging, where age-old wisdom is meeting new technology to deliver us homes that are both beautiful and beautifully sustainable.


When my sister and I started Wagonhaus last year, we had a vision to deliver sustainable luxury to every Australian.

I’ve had a passion for simple living and the progressive, environmentally friendly philosophy that underpins the tiny house movement here and overseas.


Studying at the School of Architecture in Launceston reinforced to me Tasmania’s special qualities — we are lucky to live in a hub of innovation, with a burgeoning community of young and energetic talent, parked among some of the most compelling natural beauty on offer anywhere in the world.


And so, my sister and I thought to ourselves: “The tiny house movement might have started overseas, but it is here, in our incredible Tassie backyard, that we can take it to the next level.”


Now, less than a year in, we’re delivering our custom-built houses to eco-friendly clients nationwide.


While rapid technological development such as solar panels, lithium batteries and composting toilets have certainly made the dream of building green homes easier, much of our work still lies in harnessing old wisdom.


Technological fixes can improve things, but more important is thorough planning in the design and construction phase.

Attention to detail, correct positioning of the building envelope and the use of thermally appropriate materials is the main game when it comes to designing an eco-friendly home.


In the West, we have been conditioned to think that bigger is better and that we couldn’t possibly do without that extra storage space for our surplus electronics and clothing.


The tiny house movement is making the case that our happiness derives not from the things we have, but from the people and places with whom we share those things.


Wagonhaus’ two-bedroom home, called Tiny Monument, will be open to the public at the Forth Primary School near Devonport in the state’s North-West from 11am-3pm this Sunday, as part of Sustainable House Day. Visit or Wagonhaus for details.

Kylie Bell is the founder of Wagonhaus Tiny Homes, based in North-West Tasmania.

Tiny Monument Mercury photo 2017.jpg
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