Tiny tram-like houses designed to revive an old shipyard

Polish architecture students envision an artistic commune with their affordable housing project, Small House on Tracks.

From the Series

Post-industrial cities are largely characterised by abandoned spaces like factories, warehouses or residences that go unused. As contemporary architects, designers and artists move toward recycling, reusing and redesigning, these spaces become of interest to those who imagine new and innovative uses for the neglected sites.

When looking at a semi-desolate shipyard in the city of Gdańsk, Polish architecture students Tomasz Zablotny and Paweł Maszota saw potential for an artistic commune, which inspired their unique housing design, Small House on Tracks, also referred to as Little House on Rails.

Although The Gdańsk Shipyard is not the bustling industrial centre it once was, it has borne witness to many historical moments. Motivated to revive the cultural heritage landmark, the young architects drew up a plan, which imagines the space as a community of tiny, low-cost homes for creatives, students and workers.

Designed for an innovative housing competition, the Small House on Tracks is a unique housing model comprised of a series of expandable homes that will be able to move around the yard on existing rail tracks. In its compact form, the prototype house measures 1.5 metres in width, 2.09 metres in length, and 2.5 metres in height, but when occupied, the unit will be able to extend out an extra metre.

From the outside, the home looks like a small wooden box but inside, the space is fitted with a small bathroom, a kitchenette, a retractable counter top and a couch that pulls out into a bed. Natural light would enter through the built-in skylight and solar panels on the roof would supply power.