Small-Space Living, Airstream Style


The tiny house designed by students at Green Mountain College can be hauled by a 4-cylinder car.

Minimalist and elegant, this 70-square-foot “living system,” designed by students at Vermont’s Green Mountain College, is meant for small-space living on the go. The pod-shaped domicile, powered by a single 120-watt solar panel and rainwater collection, can be towed by any average 4-cylinder car, freeing travelers up from both expense and emissions. Dubbed the OTIS, or Optimal Traveling Independent Space, by the 16 students who designed and built it as part of the REED (Renewable Energy and Ecological Design) program, this mobile tiny-house is any singleton’s dream pad for off-grid, nomadic living.

“At the end of the day, you really just need the environment to sustain yourself,” said senior Mike Magnotta, describing the freedom OTIS offers. “You’re not tied down to a piece of land. You’re not stuck somewhere. You can really go anywhere and do anything.” The result of the project suggests “a new take on the American Dream,” says Professor Lucas Brown, who points out that Millennials aren’t seduced by the notion of suburban living. With its spirit of adventure — and a composting toilet — firmly in place, the OTIS is a prototype with the potential to go far.


The OTIS, or Optimal Traveling Independent Space, measures just 70 square feet.



Meaghan O'Neill is a writer, editor, blogger wrangler, and the founder of Puddingstone Post. She was formerly editor-in-chief of TreeHugger, Discovery Channel online, and TLC's Parentables. Her writing has appeared in numerous print and online publications, and her book, Ready, Set, Green: 8 Weeks to Modern Eco-Living (Villard/Random House) was published in 2008. She lives in Newport, RI with her family.

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