Book Review: Going Tiny: Failure + Opportunity in the Future of Affordable Housing

I’m excited to see what God has in store for Davis Richardson.  He is an up and coming architect that seeks to revolutionize the housing market into something more sustainable…from both an environmental and affordability perspective.  Davis is asking all the right questions.  I had the privilege of watching Davis grow up at North Cobb Christian School.  In fact, he was the Principal’s Award recipient from the Class of 2011.  If he really hits the big time, I’ll feel somewhat like I called it!  Seriously though…this is a young man with a heart to do things that really matter.  He played baseball at the College of Charleston for a year and then transferred to Harding University for the remainder of his college and baseball career.  He is now a student in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas.  When it was time to move out to UT, Davis decided that he would just build himself a tiny house to combat the ridiculous costs of housing in Austin.  Our family had the privilege of touring his tiny house (Kinetohaus) before he hit the road to Austin.
Davis has had a lot of opportunities to speak and write in addition to his work at UTSOA.    Just a few months ago, he released his first book Going Tiny: Failure + Opportunity in the Future of Affordable Housing.  I really enjoyed reading his thoughts and highlighted a few things while reading.  I’ve posted those notes below.  I’m so proud of Davis!  Can’t wait to see what’s next for this young man!
  • This book will explore how tiny houses fall short in their ability to be a lasting solution to the current and coming housing crises in cities but seeks to extract the successes and lessons they’ve brought to the table in order to find the best way forward in affordable, sustainable, architecturally-significant housing. p. 13
  • As with anything, we must focus on the process and not the product if we want to move forward and continue to improve (a read I highly recommend, although hardly related to tiny houses: Mindset by Carol Dweck). We should learn lessons from tiny houses – what works, and what doesn’t, and move forward better equipped to solve the problems this world throws our way. p. 60
  • I think it’s safe to say we’re either tired or skeptical of the rat race. Most people would admit there are many things more important in life than money and wealth. Family, community, people are of infinitely more worth than the dollar bills in my bank account. p. 69
  • We have an opportunity for economy, and not just an economy of money. By taking advantage of the opportunity to build smaller, simpler, and slower, we can create financial freedom for people, for families, for communities. We have the opportunity to create an economy of community in these spaces. p. 69
  • Less is, in fact, more. We can flip the script on the more is more world in which we live. p. 72
  • Urban planners will tell you that although increasing accessibility to affordable housing is a complex issue with many considerations to make reality, there is a simplified formula: smaller units plus increased density. p. 105
  • When we look specifically into the future of affordable housing and the directions our cities are headed, a couple of trends become clear: we don’t have enough affordable housing, and we have plenty of parking. p. 114
  • It’s both possible to see imminent failure and opportunity out of the very movement that’s failing. In fact, we learn far more from our shortcomings and grow from failure, not success. Success fools us into thinking we have it all figured out, when most of the time, we’ve just found something that’ll suffice for a little while. p. 129
  • Today it’s affordable housing. Tomorrow it’ll be climate change and resilient design. After that? Who knows? Going to Mars? Virtual spaces replacing physical ones? I have no idea.   But what I do know is that if I approach these unknowns as design problems – if I see them as opportunities for improvement, not just problems – I have the framework to make something even better. Something more equitable, sustainable, beautiful.   So here’s to the death of tiny houses and any other shallow trend that only scratches the surface of making a better world. Here’s to a new life of fully-formed ideas that provide us with more options. Here’s to a movement where everyone – regardless of race, creed, income, or orientation – is afforded a place of fullness and delight. p. 130

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