The Tiny House Project by Ben Hayward

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The Tiny House Project by Ben Hayward

Tiny House: “A small compact living space gaining popularity with young adults looking to downsize their living space and save money.”

Ben Hayward and Indoteak Design teamed up late last year for a project Ben had lined up with HGTV and their program, Tiny House. His concept was to create a unique, totally original mobile home that had a green footprint, a bold design and beauty inside and out. When he asked us to provide the tile for his bathroom, we jumped at the chance to be involved.

Over the months that followed, we found that Ben was a great communicator who was very driven by his passions and his goals. He would check in with us to let us know how his project was moving along and to provide us with photos of his progress. As things are getting close to completion, the images are getting more and more exciting and we wanted to reach out to Ben so we could interview him about this amazing project.

The bedding actually drops down with a pulley system letting Ben make best use of the living/office space

Tiny House Fun Facts:
180 Sq Feet
8.5 feet wide
R-48+ walls
Floors ranging from R-42 to R-120 under the bathroom
Triple-pane sliding patio door
Photovoltaic panels and a wind turbine will power two hot water tanks for radiant heating and domestic hot water
heated with radiant tubing
Roxul mineral wool insulation

Designer, athlete, Tiny House builder and Olympic hopeful, Ben Hayward.

You have done a similar build before with the Hobbit Van project(watch Video), What did you learn doing that build that you can apply to the current project?

The Hobbit Van project, when compared to the current venture, is a night and day difference in terms of technical complexity, but the spirit remains the same.  I am drawn to this design style of trying to get the most out of every square foot of design.  The Hobbit Van was my first real testing bed for experimenting with design ideas on a full scale.  Apart from some architecture models, I had never built anything before had little experience with wood working tools.  The Hobbit Van allowed me to gain construction and design experience when working with something unconventional.

In returning back to university to finish off my degree, I wanted to take a deep dive into what it would take to produce a mass market tiny house that was tailored for a North American clientele. This would, above all else, need to include high performance building systems, ease of use, ergonomic space saving components, and desirability.  The Hobbit Van taught me a lot about micro-living and what you need to feel comfortable in a space.  This current project attempts to retain the magic of the Hobbit Van, while removing the compromises in lifestyle.



Indoteak Design 100% FSC reclaimed teak wood Cinta tile was used for the backsplash. Featured pattern is the “Tommy” tile.

You have a diverse group of interests: Kayaking, design, construction and student. How do you find the time for all your interests?

This current project has certainly made it a challenge to keep everything in balance.  I enjoy working towards ambitious goals but my time structure usually has to be parsed out into a primary workload and a secondary workload.  Right now I am working in two year rotations based around the Olympic cycle.

Two years prior to the Olympics, I will become a full time athlete and make architecture the secondary priority.  After the Olympic year, I focus on architecture/university as a top priority while making sure I am in a place where I can keep up with my training.   This meant it took me 8 years to complete my undergraduate degree but ultimately allowed me to pursue both of my passions with enough commitment to do them both well.

How did you find us here at Indoteak Design?

In the early construction days, I was giving a tour to the director of the architecture school and explaining the interior finish options that I was considering putting in.  When we got to the wet room, I was explaining some ideas for a tile mosaic that I was mulling over and she expressed what a shame it was that I would be using ceramic.

She pointed out that my project was based in the exploration of wood’s capabilities and that I could stay true to this theme by using teak tiles.  She then sent me an email linking me to IndoTeak Design and some amazing examples of designers using these teak tiles in wet room situations.


Gorgeous design with our Modern Classic 100% reclaimed teak wood tiles. When applied with resin coating, these wood tiles are perfect for any wet area.

If you could go back and tell your 12 year old self one thing that would blow his mind about his future, what would it be?

I think the notion that there was a future possible in athletics and design would have been unthinkable to my awkward, shy, piano recital hating 12 year old self.  I was not particularly artistically or athletically inclined at that age and the idea of architecture as a profession seemed like one of those dream jobs was not realistic.

follow Ben on Instagram

Is that grass on the roof? Sure is. Look for the Tiny House project to air on HGTV soon.


This prototypical home is undertaken as a design-build research project on manufactured housing. This project is one of the first to explore digital fabrication and holistic design strategies combined with solar thermal building systems in a small transportable footprint.

The project is a plug-and-play alternative to a similarly sized condominium. It is currently under construction with the intention of deployment to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Thus, the building envelope must meet thermal efficiency and airtight levels to support harsh winters.

It all starts with a concept before becoming a finished design. Rendering by Ben Hayward

Several subcategory goals stem from this premise:

1. Utilizing a solar-thermal off-grid heating solution suitable for a northern Canadian climate.

2. Merging technical and spatial design considerations.

3. Expressing digital fabrication as a new language of art and architecture.

Promotional material is being designed to appeal to three target audiences:

Green Tech: In a northern Canadian climate, heating accounts for over 70% of energy consumption annually.  The solar-thermal system will demonstrate the power of a well executed, holistic building design to generate sustainable and affordable heat.

The home uses photovoltaics and a micro wind turbine for heating of interior space and domestic hot water.  The system delivers electricity directly to a heating element which supplies the hydronic underfloor heating.  A storage tank acts as a thermal battery, retaining hot water to be utilized overnight. This method is more economical and requires less maintenance when compared to hydronic solar-thermal. This unique system requires an efficient building envelope that through material selection also minimizes embodied energy and maximizes longevity.

General Media: The “Tiny House Movement” has achieved widespread media attention. The open plan, plug-and-play design is catered to inspire those who are captivated by minimalist living, while offering full-sized amenities that require little-to-no change in lifestyle.

Apart from the bathroom, the interior is a single open space, using floor height to define individual rooms.  The front entranceway is located at the wheel well, functioning both to hide the trailer as well as providing an expansive experience when stepping into the home. Using a loft free design, a full sized bed descends from the ceiling. This improves space efficiency and increases accessibility of the home.

Architecture and Design: This project utilizes the power of digital fabrication to create unique spatial conditions and propels a new language of art and architecture. The detailing is evolving with an ambition to be worthy of publication in architecture and interior design journals and websites.

The fabrication method heavily uses CNC routing for three primary reasons: precision friction fit joints for a high performing building envelope, complex double curved spatial qualities, and mass production capability.  This also allows for a complex replacement part to be milled in any city and installed with minimal skill level.

Beyond the specific architectural elements of this design, we will investigate the urban planning potential for plug-and-play homes of the future.  Publications will be delivered on deployment strategies to both backyard infill and new semi-permanent micro home communities.

Ben Hayward



Cinta Tommy Tile in Custom Color -click image below to shop Tommy Tiles