From Casitas to Tiny Houses

As we re-think the way we live post-COVID19, will Mallorca see a tiny house boom?

Terraced House Bunyola

A global awakening is upon us. The coronavirus pandemic has forced people to reconsider the way they have been living and consuming. If you weren’t already moving towards a sustainable life, the spring of 2020 will be remembered as the time you started.

Many shifts have been part of this whole, The Zero Waste movement took off only a decade ago, Marie Kondo helped a wider audience re-evaluate their possessions, minimalists started sharing their stories of living with less, permaculture has boomed, and advocates for self-sufficiency, such as Rob Greenfield have planted all the food they eat.

Tiny Houses became a trend in line with these newly acquired values of “being satisfied with what you have rather than what you want”. It is difficult to unlearn that living with less is an essential part of sustainable life, and once you’ve let go of what doesn’t “spark joy”, to use Marie Kondo’s words, you’ll have greater appreciation and enjoyment from using and taking care of the few items you decide to keep.

The series Tiny House Nation first aired in 2014, only beginning to stream on Netflix in August 2019, yet the concept is already part of a global vocabulary tied to sustainable living and financial freedom, two things that will be even higher on the agenda post-COVID19.

However, let’s remember that living in small dwellings is nothing new. In fact, Mallorca’s countryside is dotted with casitas, small houses that were more common before tourism swept the island. Plenty sit unloved on decent plots of land. Many are uninhabited in varying states of decay, some are used as shade from gardening, and others are kept for the weekend or renovated into guesthouses alongside newer, dominating structures.

Due to the development laws in Mallorca’s countryside, plots smaller than 14,000 square meters cannot be developed beyond the size of their existing structures, regardless of disrepair. This means that there are many plots with low value, because the square-footage of the existing building site isn’t deemed worth renovating

That said, the creativity of the tiny house movement, as well as a growing trend to re-ruralise, will inspire revitalising the casitas of Mallorca. While groups such as the Resilience Centre in Mallorca see the construction of tiny houses as a way to build a sustainable community, many will see living small as an affordable way to relocate to the countryside.

In many ways living sustainably is reminiscent of times past, using natural products in place of plastics, owning fewer clothes, travelling less, and consuming local, seasonally grown produce, and yet there are increasing options on the market for futuristic and sustainable living solutions.

Innovative start-ups in the sector, such as Nestron, offer solutions for the creative use of space aided by developments in engineering, such as prefabrication, adaptive insulation, 3D printing, and solar to incorporate contemporary amenities with the opportunity for financial freedom and more engagement with nature, encouraged by less dependence on building permits.

Those who pursue a minimal lifestyle find that when they live with less, storage space is no longer needed, and anyone learning about sustainability quickly realises that drawing on the grid to heat or cool large rooms is increasingly problematic. It is wise then, when idealising your dream house on Mallorca, to consider the rising temperatures and feedback loop caused by increased dependence of air-conditioning especially in relation to the size of a living space.

While tiny houses are appealing, in line with re-ruralisation and regeneration of the casitas of Mallorca a holistic approach is needed in becoming truly sustainable. This will include investment in the local communities to support an environmentally conscious, local lifestyle.
We can only hope that the best of Mallorca’s history, as a culture of farmers, will result in more home gardens thriving once again. |