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Rolling Homes: Less is truly more

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Since I got my garden and have been building my studio, I’ve had even more interest in the Tiny House Movement, “a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in.” For the last three years, I have watched just about every video and read loads of articles. I’m not an expert by any means, but I am definitely an interested observer who has plans. Recently I joined a group from Leipzig Uni on a tour of the local Rolling Homes.

The tour was organised by Julia from the Leipzig Uni Environmental Awareness group at StuRA. Julia has such an infectious smile that it’s hard to imagine her doing anything but good for any environment. Like me, the Canadian had been following the Tiny House Movement, but had never actually seen a “tiny house.” There were several of us in the same (house)boat, from a rainbow of nations.

Rolling Homes owner Sebastian Pfeifer warmly greeted us. (Photo: maeshelle west-davies)

Rolling Homes owner Sebastian Pfeifer was all smiles as he greeted us. It was his first tour and he hadn’t expected so many excited international faces.

Pfeifer is a carpenter by trade. What he works on is old train cars and circus wagons – hence the name “Rolling Homes.” It’s a little different from typical “tiny houses” in that weight is not as much of an issue, since these can be moved by truck rather than pulled behind a car.

The anticipation was palpable as we looked at train cars in various stages. He finally said, “Do you want to go in?”, and we all jumped at the chance. It was somewhat Dr Who-esque as we entered and found it much more spacious and luxurious than we had expected.

The walls were covered in marine ply. The plumbing was in place for a full bathroom with shower and a kitchen fit for a mini chef. The heating unit sat ready to be installed. The floors were hard wood in a serpentine pattern.

Julia’s infectious smile as we entered our first wagon. (Photo: maeshelle west-davies)

Julia mentioned, “You can have a few quality pieces and you’re set.”

So much attention is paid to detail.

The walls are all 15cm thick and insulated with wood pulp. This was one of the reasons the students were interested in the project. They are concerned with lowering their carbon footprint.

Any time we can downsize and recycle, we do that. The reuse of wagons that would otherwise be discarded and left to rot is also very much a positive. Each wagon is stripped and sanded and then restored to better than original glory.

People order them for all sort of reasons: guest houses, offices, vacation homes, Airbnb. Sebastian’s run up to 50,000 euros and are full of only the best materials and highest quality craftsmanship.

For the students who are renting rooms, these seemed huge at 3 x 10.

I think that’s not too bad, but feel like I’d need a couple more. One to live in, one to write in, another for working and one for entertaining. Sounds like I need a wagon train!

One of the students asked Sebastian if he lived in a “rolling home,” and how much space he thought he needed. He actually preferred a smaller one at 3 x 6.

I wondered if the girlfriend would have gone for the bigger one.

Maeshelle West-Davies gleans her varied life experiences to expose a personal perspective through a multitude of mediums. Sound, video, photography, dance, performance and public art are the tools she uses to convey her message. Her work is a response not only to a physical journey, but an emotional one, as with all of us who walk along or beside our individual paths.

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