Never underestimate the power of minimal modernism, especially when it comes to spaces that are designed for serenity and clarity of thought. Almost any kind of typical household room can be relocated and reinvented as an outdoor work of art, made to bring focus to a particular activity. Designers and architects around the world have devised dozens of ways to fill small, ultramodern structures with their own passions and those of their clients, sometimes even creating entire homes from the philosophy of efficient use of minimal space and connection to natural surroundings. Pod-like external structures provide a sense of separation from the daily grind and the distractions of modern life in a way that internal rooms sometimes can’t, adding tranquility to even the most busy of surroundings. No matter how close to or far from home or work these buildings are (and even if these buildings are your home or your workplace), their clean, modern style and minimal design philosophy manages to transport you far from the stresses and interference of life.
The simplest of microspaces are often just detached extensions from a larger home, in a similar vein to a traditional shed. This spherical one-room office is one such space, designed to give the working parent a place to carry out their daily operations without interruption. With a pure-white interior consisting of an amply-sized desk and a skylight for occasional inspiration, while this extension may match its master structure in exterior appearance, its interior is much more focused on the task at hand.
Sticking to the theme of work pods that stay close to home, this next creation is much more elaborate than the first, designed less for simplicity and more for absolute productivity. Literally called the ““, this design is geared towards large companies who wish to cut down on office space and have their employees be as successful as possible while working from home. The OfficePOD is capable of being hooked up to a battery system or the electrical grid itself for lighting and climate control, and can be relocated from site-to-site as work moves. The modern style of the OfficePOD comes from a desire to bring home-based jobs into the 21st century with a purpose-made workspace, and can be customized to provide for comfort and privacy concerns.
It’s a well-known cultural impression that creatives love to work far out in the woods, with famous writers, singers, and visual artists preferring to create in a completely natural environment. For your own inner Thoreau, designed and built this ultra-secluded and ultra-modern configurable office to clear the mind of any unsettling influences. With a geometric structure than can be expanded and even made into a sleeping quarters, this reinvented cabin allows for the flow of serene outdoor air through to the center of your projects.
Working hard is all well and good, but it’s not for much if you can’t find a way to kick back and have a good time every once in awhile. To that end, this box of wood beams is a unique way to spend your social time. Configured by combining beams of various lengths, the interior of this pint-sized meeting point contains nook, crannies, and unintentional shelves to perch, sit, or lie on. From just yourself to a large group of people, this creative modern cabin can accommodate any sort of gathering.
For the largest of groups, the next entry in our list is sure to stun guests. It’s not often that you see a house-size fireplace, and this one located in a park in the city of Trondheim has significant design props. Seating dozens of people, it gives a sense of unity to the traditional campfire. The stylish shell keeps the elements out and the warmth in, guaranteeing a good night for a fire in almost any weather.
Sometimes, playtime is more personal than social. For those moments, Manuel Villa’s Bogota backyard playhouse features a stress-free miniature living room environment, complete with a couch and cabinets in which to keep anything you wish. For those days on which the weather doesn’t permit true outdoor time, this little abode still gives you the sense of the outdoors with all the comforts of being inside.
Even the busiest places in the world need a little bit of relaxation for their residents. While spas and meditation clinics charge a pretty penny for the privilege, this installation in downtown London is entirely free. Made from balsa wood, this organically-shaped tea house by Heather and Ivan Morison keeps the interior space wide-open and sparsely-decorated to inspire calm in visitors. With most of its windows set on the side of the tea house up against an ornamental pond and a skylight looking directly upward, it inspires London’s fast-life residents to slow down a moment and rest up in the presence of natural materials.
Reading: it’s one of the most calming and personal activities enjoyed by humankind. , built specifically for backyards, enhances the calm of reading with a dedicated, low-cost modern prefab building in which to do it. With a tiny footprint of less than 100 square feet, The Read Nest still contains all the essentials for the book lover, including built-in shelves and a picture window to be pointed wherever the view is best. Away from the noise that often accompanies living with others, even those with large families can enjoy some independent time with a good read.
If you’re a reader with a higher budget and even more space, perhaps you wish to dream a little bigger. A hillside treat nestled deep in the woods awaits the owner of this Gluck+ book nook design, which has four times the floorspace of The Read Nest and has cabinets, couches, and an entire library at its disposal. The space also has glass windows defining the upper half of the area on all four sides, offering panoramic views of the surrounding nature. It’s nirvana for an avid reader.
Perhaps you’d like a studio more than a pure book nook. If that’s true, you may become attached to this ultra-subtle music-making zone owned by Hans Liberg. Disguised to look like a wood pile from afar (the window covers even have log prints to complete the image), this rustic space is decidedly more high-tech than it seems, housing recording and composing tools for its musician owner. As a comfortable, inspiring place to make tunes, a log pile simply can’t be beat for uniqueness.
Sometimes, the concept of minimalism and down-to-the-core design can produce microbuildings that serve the purpose of general living, not just a single specialized task. Homes like this tipi in the suburbs, similar in shape to the group fire house from earlier, make the most of a very small space and pack in sleeping, cooking, and relaxing quarters without being bound by the idea of what a traditional home is. This Michigan home is also cost-effective, having been made out of lightweight, easily-shaped materials with the capability to be prefabricated.
Though many tiny homes lack some basic amenities, each one has its own way of making up for what’s lost from a full-size house. For this vacation cabin, that redeeming factor is ultra-modern architectural design. Its bright, glass-based structure offers an integration into the beach and views of the ocean that are unparalleled, and the home is light enough to sit close to a beach without running into erosion issues that plague larger beach homes. For the weekend retreat crowd, this home has it all.
Among all the microbuildings we’ve seen, one theme seems to come up quite often: portability. This is one of the only fully-functional homes that serves that end, . Made in two distinct sections for utility and for rest, the modules of this home can be rearranged and moved to any new location its owner chooses. Though it doesn’t have all the utilities hookups of a regular old house, this home can be taken from campsite to campsite and hooked up to on-site electricity for comfortable, mobile living.
The most daring design of any modern pod home shown here, this house is made up of four greenhouse style modules which can be made into any shape its owner desires. For obvious reasons the bedroom is best-suited to a shady area, but overall this design is one of the most effective ultra-minimal ones out there. It’s entirely up to the owner how to populate their modules, installing everything from a simple mattress to full kitchen fixtures to storage. With customization factored in, the home has the capacity to be utterly unique and connected to nature.