Designers Justin Rice and Kagan Taylor from Los Angeles-based build and design studio Knowhow Shop have recently completed an eye-catching micro-office. Dubbed Lighthouse, the 154-sq ft (14.3-sqm) unit is designed as a backyard office on wheels, and also resembles the studio's Lunar Cat Lander shelter, designed for homeless cats back in 2016.
With its use of geometric angles and shapes, the office pod looks quite small from the outside, however it boasts a surprisingly spacious interior. "It does feel bigger inside and we are able to have four people working together in it comfortably," Justin and Kagan reveal to New Atlas.
Built using structural insulated panels (SIPs) and salvaged Douglas Fir from old beams, the duo adopted furniture building techniques to complete the office space. A strong focus was given to using lightweight and reclaimed materials in order to create a final product that has little impact on the environment and is light enough to be easily moved around.
To achieve this, the micro-office is built on heavy-duty castor wheels, which allows the pod to be moved from place to place when required. The added bonus of having the structure on wheels means it is kept above the ground that helps keep it dry during wet weather.
"We have a small shop yard and value flexibility in our workflow," the duo say. "Having the office on wheels allows us to move it when we have a particularly large material delivery or in the case that we move our studio (a very real possibility in LA's rental market)."
Featuring a unique door with no right angles and a bespoke skylight inspired by traditional boat building, the office is all about capturing plenty of natural light and maximizing the interior space. Inside, the studio office features beautiful wooden wall paneling and flooring, built-in furniture, four computer work stations, and plenty of storage. The project was conceived of as a way to showcase the duo's talents and approach to design, while also serving as a functional office for their business.
"It was an interesting project, we did everything ourselves, from fabricating custom SIPs panels to fiber-glassing and painting the exterior and of course we built all the interior woodwork and doors and windows," they say. "We were pretty frugal and tried to save money where we could: using reclaimed Douglas Fir for the woodwork and even milling our own tongue and groove flooring, but we didn't want to cut any corners and did everything with the intention of it being a showcase project. We worked on the project when we could in between other jobs so it took a while, but it was super rewarding when we finally wrapped it up and moved in last July."
The Lighthouse's over-sized feature window and skylight allow for plenty of natural light to fill the space during the day, while in the evening a single desk lamp is capable of efficiently lighting the interior. The skylight can also be opened to allow natural air flow through the office. Currently, the office is powered by mains power from the Knowhow studio building, however the pod could easily be fitted with solar panels.
"Most 'Tiny Homes' are built to look like small versions of traditional vernacular architecture," the two say. "We weren't interested in trying to recreate buildings that exist in the world, rather, we wanted to create the types of buildings we would like to see, albeit on a small scale. Also, it's not often we think about how much a building weighs, but in this case, because it is constructed out of SIPs panels, it weighs about the as much as a family car. This, plus the fact that the panels are prefabricated and can be shipped to site, allows for really minimal environmental disturbance."
Knowhow Shop would like to start building Lighthouses for their clients, which can be assembled on site within a day, and the team is also currently working on designs for a two-room version. The duo still need to work out pricing for the pods but they believe the final cost of the Lighthouse project was around US$50,000, taking into consideration their labor and all materials.
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