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When they were travelling overseas, Justin and Jola decided to search out options for where to live on returning home to New Zealand. They had lived in a house bus for a short time and thought it would be a great option.
‘‘I remember lying in bed’’, Jola says, ‘‘and Justin showed me these pictures and I was like, wow, they look so awesome! It pretty much looks like our truck. I said, we have to build this and we have.’’
It’s a perfectly practical home for the couple and their young son Piko. Although it may look fanciful when expanded, each element of the home is as much about form as it is function. The Castle Truck is self-sufficient, capturing rainwater, generating energy from its solar panels, heating water through a mixture of solar thermal heating and a wood stove, and even dehydrating food through an inbuilt compartment in the roof.
The second level extends up over the truck’s cabin and is the bedroom. Its walls have been papered with old musical scores and Jola says she keeps discovering lyrics she hasn’t read before. Just below the sleeping area is a very clever wardrobe, which rotates like a lazy susan, providing generous storage space. Just when you think this interesting home couldn’t offer any more, you find a rooftop balcony, which is accessed via the bedroom, complete with a hammock, panoramic views and even a solar-heated bathtub.
The home on wheels is ideal for this family, who lead a semi-nomadic life. Justin, who is an engineer, finds odd jobs during their travels, while Jola, a circus artist, performs with her twin sister in an acrobatic duo aptly named the Twisty Twins. Living in the Castle Truck provides the family with a secure home, whether they are parked for a period of time or travelling on the road.
The Castle Truck has raised the bar in terms of what I thought possible in small-space design. The number of clever design tricks, engineered secret places and integrated systems that went into making this home is mind-boggling, and to have achieved it all in such a playful, creative way, well, that is just classy.
●Living Big in a Tiny House by Bryce Langston, published in hardback by Potton & Burton, RRP: $49.99