Students building 128-square-foot house

Aug. 28, 2011 at 12:02 PM

EVANSTON, Ill., Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Forget "McMansions," engineering students at Northwestern University in Illinois have designed and are building a 128-square-foot house.

The four-room house on the Evanston campus has a living room, bedroom loft, kitchen and bathroom, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Sunday. Not only is it small, it's environmentally friendly, with solar panels for electricity, a composting toilet and a system to capture and filter rainwater for bathing and sink needs, the newspaper said.

The project is to explore the idea that people can get by with minimal space.

The house, which will be finished next month, cost nearly $50,000 in grant money because of the cutting-edge technology. The students reviewed five years of weather records to determine the solar panel needs and plumbing requirements.

"We've over-engineered it," said one of the students, Alejandro Sklar, 22.

The tiny house is part of a movement that began a decade ago.

"A small house is more efficient, more green, more affordable," said proponent Jay Shafer, who lived for years in an 89-square-foot home in Iowa and now inhabits a 500-square-foot house with his wife and child.

"People mostly just like the liberation. There's no more mortgage, no more rent."

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