Getaway in the news

The Lab’s first project, Getaway, is off to a great start.

We brought the Clara house, our third tiny house, to the Harvard Innovation Lab’s Hubweek event.  A BostInno reporter took a tour and did a nice write up on the Getaway idea:

Right now, Getaway is primarily pushing an “anti-vacation” agenda — the staff’s term for the low-cost, short-term and stress-free outings they provide. They’ve just built their third tiny house in the East Boston Shipyard and they’re planning on expanding to New York next year.

We also brought the Clara to Harvard Square and gave tours to hundreds of New Englanders:


Last week, WGBH sent a reporter to our Getaway sites in southern New Hampshire:

If you are interested in test-driving tiny house living, including our newest Clara house, visit:

Stay tuned for more updates on the Millennial Housing Lab’s first project, Getaway.

Informal Office’s new tiny house village for the unhoused

The folks at Informal Office, a design practice located in Lexington, Kentucky, recently sent the Lab information on their new plan for a tiny house village for the unhoused.  Below is photos and information on their project, Under One Roof:

A call for proposals was initiated by the AIA North Carolina Activate 14 committee and the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness to address a new typology of urban housing in the form of a twelve unit community of tiny homes just outside of downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. Activate 14 called for designs that would offer affordable housing to serve people without a stable dwelling place and as a way toTiny House-3 (1)enliven the social fabric of underserved areas and populations.

The shortlisted design by Informal Office of Lexington, KY asked a simple question: When considering housing for the formerly homeless, how is it different than housing for anyone else? Issues of ownership, personal privacy, and storage were pr ioritized, but ultimately, the architecture should make homeless housing a seamless part of its community. Homeless individuals constantly live their private lives in public. Despite this public exposure, there is a clear social disengagement between these individuals and the public majority. Their design consists of a row of shotgun houses connected by a single roof and shared front porch. This connectivity establishes a series of private-public relationships along the front porch, and allows the residents to cultivate a sense of individual ownership while simultaneously feeling a part of both the immediate residential community, and the larger downtown area.Tiny House-2 (1)

Their project, Under One Roof, is a connected row of twelve 144 square foot houses flanking a centered community building. Residents are both owners of their private unit and active members of their twelve-home neighborhood. Individuality is expressed by unique roof pitches and color choices for each home. The single roof and shared porch unite these individual structures. The structure of the roof is braced by adjacent units and the continuous front porch becomes a linear social scene visible from the street. The homes, community building, and porch, work together to define the project as a cohesive architectural mass; a single building made from individual parts. As a way to present a substantial scale to the street front, Informal Office chose to consider the unification of tiny houses, into what at first glance appears to be a single building. This idea is reinforced by the use of a permeable porch screen that helps define the project as a single building consisting of parts. Tiny homes, although small in scale as individual units, should still offer a sense of stability and permanence. Every resident has their own full bathroom, full height storage wall, and sleeping quarters organized as a “shorter shotgun house”. Shared kitchen, dining, laundry, and meeting spaces are housed in the community building.

The primary cladding material of the units, community building, and porch screen is recycled wood shipping palettes sourced from a nearby palette recycling center. Once deconstructed, the shipping palettes provide a variety of dimensions and unpredictable textures. Using appropriate scale, simple site strategy, widely available materials, and a continuity of social spaces, the project proposes a housing typology for transitional communities that uses commonly understood building techniques in a way that produces a distinctive, but familiar response to the surrounding context.

See more designs for Under One Roof here.

Legal headaches

We at the Lab recently came upon a recent story in a Michigan newspaper with a disheartening title: “Tiny house turns into big headache for Michigan man.”

We were expecting it to be about how tiny house living was not what it’s usually cracked up to be.  Haters gonna hate, we shrugged.  But then, as we kept reading, it turned out that the big headache had little to do with the tiny house experience.  Rather, it had to do with outdated regulations:

For Bellows it had to do finding a legal way to keep his tiny house on his own piece of land. He found a 3.8-acre piece of land in Lapeer County, but Bellows said in order to be there legally the home had to be at least 960-square feet.

So in January 2012 — after almost five months of living in his tiny house on his own piece of land — he was forced to move out.

Now, as the tiny house movement is on the brink of going mainstream, the project of legalizing tiny — updating housing regulations to allow for voluntary tiny house living — is more important than ever!  Read the full story here.

Recycling Kitchens?

The New York Times recently ran an interesting story on ways recycling luxury kitchens can lower the cost of housing:

In New York, it’s no secret that some buyers of multimillion-dollar homes are willing to do whatever it takes to create a residence that reflects their personal taste — even if it means tearing out brand-new or lightly used kitchens and bathrooms that were installed by a previous owner or developer. The traditional way of dealing with that material is to demolish and dispose of it.

…However, some environmentally minded homeowners and contractors choose to take things apart more carefully — a process known as deconstruction — and then donate the materials to salvage operations, so they can be reused by others. For budget-conscious homeowners willing to do a little hunting, and to be flexible about design decisions, that means there’s a ready supply of high-quality building materials available for surprisingly low prices.

Read the full story, “Recycled Kitchens, Salvaged Splendor,” here.

The Lorraine has launched!

photo 5Turns out our first project — Getaway, which places tiny houses in the woods and rents them out by the night to urbanites hoping to test drive tiny house living and unplug from the digital grind —  isn’t going to be a one-house wonder!  Our second Getaway house, the Lorraine, has launched!   Read more about the trek from the East Boston Shipyard to southern New Hampshire  here.

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The Millennial Commune

The New York Times just ran a feature on the growing trend of Millennial communes:

Pure House is among a handful of businesses that are renting rooms at a premium in exchange for access to amenities, a dormlike atmosphere and an instant community. For a certain set of New Yorkers, often new arrivals to the city with an income but no rental history, Pure House offers something of a reprieve. No credit check. No draconian rules about earning 40 times the monthly rent. No 12-month lease.

There’s a major community element:

“We live in a super-disconnected city that has tons and tons of people, but it can feel really lonely here,” said Harrison Iuliano, who until last week worked as the programming director of Pure House, which rents out rooms to about 40 people in nine apartments in various buildings around Williamsburg. “Our goal is to make that a nonissue.”

But some are way pricey:

Instead, they sign a 30-day membership agreement, paying from $1,600 to $4,000 a month for a room in an apartment to be shared with others who, theoretically, have a similar worldview. The arrangement is a commercial outgrowth of co-living, taking life with roommates to a different level.

And the housing security is dicey:

But perhaps the biggest drawback is the 30-day lease that many co-living advocates rally behind. It provides residents with virtually no housing security at all. Their rent could rise or they could be displaced with as little as a month’s notice.

“We are hopeful that many of our members will be able to stay in their homes after the company winds down,” Mr. Currier of the disbanding Campus wrote in an email.

As the co-housing renaissance matures, can we help keep the benefits — community and flexibility — while lowering the price tag and increasing stability?

A big launch week for!

The Millennial Housing Lab is serious when it calls itself an action lab: we have no intention of just publishing papers and hoping housing possibilities create themselves.  Rather, we are devoted to imagining, launching and developing proofs of concept for new housing ideas.

We are happy that ouScreen Shot 2015-07-27 at 10.57.31 AMr first launch — Getaway, which builds tiny houses, places them on beautiful rural land and rent them by the night to city folks looking to escape the digital grind and test-drive tiny house living — lived up to that call and made a big splash this week.

  • The Boston Globe: “The first of its 8-by 20-foot homes, located in southern New Hampshire, is ready to rent. The second and third tiny houses are under construction.”
  • Fast Company Article 1: “There’s a huge gap between people who post stories to Facebook about living in tiny houses and people who actually live in one,” Davis says. “We want to add a rung to the ladder so people can ‘test drive’ a tiny house.”
  • Fast Company Article 2“”We’re making tiny houses accessible to people who otherwise can’t experience them,” says Jon Staff, CEO of Getaway, a company launched at Harvard’s Innovation Lab. The company recently opened its first 160-square foot, off-grid tiny house in the woods near Boston, and will soon add more.”
  •““We build it all in East Boston,” Staff said. “Then I get in a truck and drive them and we put them on beautiful land out of sight of any house. The first one has been completed and moved to Southern New Hampshire up on a hill.””
  • Treehugger: “The tiny house movement has mostly been ad-hoc, driven by people who for various reasons wanted to break away from the standard routine: get a job, get a mortgage, get a house. It is becoming less ad-hoc all the time as more people look at it as a real alternative model. Many of those are millennials who “trading stability for experience” either through choice or necessity. And now there is the Millenial Housing Lab looking at the problems they face. Founded by Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School and Harvard Design School students it is looking at the problems of housing a generation without stability.”
  • LifeEdited: “Both its modern interior and exterior are clad with attractive rough cut pine. The interior features built in furniture such as a table that doubles as a window cover and two built-in beds, giving the place capacity to sleep four. All electricity is solar, the toilet is composting and water is handled via a 110 gallon water tank that is refilled via the host house the tiny house shares its land with. Bookings also include fresh linens and available “provisions”–a sort of backwoods mini bar with things like coffee, trail mix, pasta, etc (these cost extra).”
  • Curbed: “Another day, another ravishing, eco-friendly, or otherwise fabulous tiny house hits the Internet, and you’re left to wonder: Can I really live in something like this? Without readily-available resources to research and build a micro home or just the sheer willpower to leave behind everything you thought you knew about a “home,” the burgeoning tiny house movement is a tough trend to get in on. But this tricky place between tiny dreamin’ and actual tiny livin’ is where Getaway, a new startup coming out of Harvard University, wants to wedge into.”
  • Boston Business Journal: “Staff said Getaway will build at least three tiny homes in the short-term, but the hope is to build at least 12 over the next year and expand to other places around the country. The homes are all designed by Harvard students and have a composting toilet, solar electricity and propane heat — among other basics.”

If you are Boston area resident interested in booking a Getaway — or hoping to request Getaway to come to your town — check out  As always, if you are interested in getting involved with Getaway or the Millennial Housing Lab generally, please contact us:

Treehugger promotes Getaway

Treehugger, a media platform dedicated to “driving sustainability mainstream,” just covered Getaway in a new slideshow on their site.  Check it out here:

We love the way they explained our role in the broader movement:

The tiny house movement has mostly been ad-hoc, driven by people who for various reasons wanted to break away from the standard routine: get a job, get a mortgage, get a house. It is becoming less ad-hoc all the time as more people look at it as a real alternative model. Many of those are millennials who “trading stability for experience” either through choice or necessity.

And now there is the Millenial Housing Lab looking at the problems they face.

The first Getaway house has arrived!

A few months ago, we at the Millennial Housing Lab had an idea: to grow the tiny house movement, let’s build some tiny houses, place them on beautiful rural land and rent them by the night to city folks looking to escape the digital grind and test-drive tiny house living.  After some late-night idea sessions, a few months of sketching with Harvard Graduate School of Design students Addison Godine, Wyatt Komarin, and Rachel Moranis, a few weeks of carpentry , and a harrowing drive of the first tiny house on I-93 North… the first Boston Getaway house has arrived in southern New Hampshire.

Here’s the house, named The Ovida (after a team members’ grandma), making the move:

Here’s finishing touches in the arrival in southern New Hampshire:


Here’s the finished outside…:


…and the finished inside:


Many thanks to Kataram Studios for the photographs and to the whole Getaway team for launching the Millennial Housing Lab’s first project! Learn more and book your getaway at

The inspiration for is our project aimed at community funding the construction of tiny houses. Here is the tweet that inspired it all:

As the New York Daily News reports:

The owner of the Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant in Lovell, Maine, is retiring and handing over the keys to the person who best writes in 200 words “Why I would like to own and operate a country inn.”

The owner, Janice Sage, believed that “there’s a lot of very talented people in the restaurant business who would like to have their own place but can’t afford it… this is a way for them to have the opportunity to try.”  For the winner, the Inn is only going to cost the $125 entry fee.

We believe the same about tiny house living: there are many people who want to try, but might not be ready to make the financial jump.  That’s why we are looking forward to follow in Janice’s footsteps by launching in the coming months.