When it comes to architecture, does size matter? This new book explores the beautiful and tiny world of "nanotecture"

Steve Dinneen
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A garden room inspired by Henry David Thoreau's novel Walden

Think ‘architecture’ and you probably imagine towering skyscrapers or designer homes crafted from poured concrete and glass. But some of the most innovative architecture exists on a far smaller scale; treehouses and sheds and cabins, projects where every inch of space must be utilised. While less readily celebrated, small-scale architecture tends to be more personal, designed for a single, focused purpose, with the results having a charm in their simplicity.

Take the PlayLAND structure, created by LIKE Architects for a week-long event that transformed a Portuguese village into a children’s adventure park. By interlocking hundreds of brightly coloured rubber rings the architects were able to create a shaded space that was immediately exciting to their young audience.

“The intimate scale of small structures has always fascinated me,” says Rebecca Roke, author of new book Nanotecture. “Tiny projects can convey interesting design resolutions – all the more compelling for being made in miniature. Smaller scaled works of architecture, design and art are occupied more intimately and so greater attention is focused on how materials are used. The restricted palette of tiny buildings also requires a maximised logic: the ability to take fewer materials and work efficiently with them. Tiny built things frequently convey a sense of freedom to experiment without the weighty responsibility of a large budget or complex functional requirements.”

Her book contains information on projects as diverse as a swing to relax in above the snow in Canada, a mirrored treehouse that blends into its surroundings and a play-area for pets.

Nanotecture by Rebecca Roke, published by Phaidon, is out now priced £14.95; phaidon.com/nanotecture