Long before tiny houses were a lifestyle trend, architects, designers, and artists were creating small-scale buildings that allowed them to experiment and take creative risks. Nanotecture: Tiny Built Things, published recently by Phaidon, is a fun little book that “presents 300 examples of small built works that illustrate how tiny projects can convey interesting design resolutions,” author Rebecca Roke writes in the introduction, “all the more compelling for being made in miniature.”
Perhaps since nobody can agree on the exact dimension of what constitutes “tiny,” Roke divided the book into five chapters of small works that she organizes into categories using a Starbucks-like naming system that she has labeled from micro to mini to midi to macro to maxi.
“Whether micro or macro, many of the projects in this book are designed to be constructed as efficiently as possible,” she writes, adding that “tiny built things frequently convey a sense of freedom to experiment without the weighty responsibility of a large budget or complex functional requirements.”
And while many of the structures, which span the globe and were built in the past few decades, are variations on temporary or permanent housing, the book includes site-specific artworks, pavilions, sheds, installations, cabins, treehouses, animal shelters, and more, many of which are demountable, portable, inflatable, and otherwise ingenious and inventive in their design and construction methods.
“Nanotecture is a celebration of the small, the compact, the miniature and the tiny,” Roke writes, adding that the “inspiring, surprising and delightful” small-scale architecture featured in the book “illustrates that size is no barrier to architectural creativity.”