Home is home, wherever you may be

Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied
Bryce Langston is a New Zealand based actor, musician, film-maker, environmentalist and tiny house dweller who has spent the past five years travelling the globe exploring trends in alternative living and small space design. Today he visits a truck that transforms into a castle.

Living Big in a Tiny House by Bryce Langston, published in hardback by Potton & Burton, RRP: $49.99
Living Big in a Tiny House by Bryce Langston, published in hardback by Potton & Burton, RRP: $49.99
The Castle Truck is simply out of this world although there is almost nothing simple about it. Constructed by Justin and Jola to be their family home on wheels, this old Bedford house truck is an absolute marvel of engineering. The truck can be folded up into normal, road-legal dimensions for travel. Parked, however, it expands, through a mixture of hydraulics and human muscle, into a full-size home shaped like a fantasy castle.

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.

A log burner keeps the kettle hot and the truck toasty and warm during New Zealand’s winter months.
A log burner keeps the kettle hot and the truck toasty and warm during New Zealand’s winter months.
On the lower level is a kitchen, dining table and lounge area, with large double doors that extend the living space into the outdoors. On the exterior are two turrets, one occupied by a yin-and-yang-shaped composting toilet, the other by a shower and small washing machine.

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

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