If you’ve got a lifestyle that can accommodate them, tiny homes are a quirky but affordable housing option. And they don’t come much quirkier or more affordable than the dumpster 28-year-old Harrison Marshall converted into a livable home in South London. His rent: A mere $62 a month that he pays to the dumpster service.
Marshall came to the project well prepared — if anyone can be prepared for the task of living in a dumpster. He is the co-founder of Caukin Studio, a design firm that marries architecture with activism. He got the idea from his company’s work with Skip Gallery (“Skip” being U.K. slang for a dumpster), a public art project.
Marshall came up with the idea as a way to save money, but also as a statement about the exorbitant cost of living in his home city, according to CNBC’s Make It.
His so-called “Skip House” currently sits on an empty lot in Southwark (granted to him by an arts charity), where he says the average rent is $1,850 a month. That’s well short of what renters pay in London proper, where average monthly prices are over $3,000.
Marshall spent about $5,000 on building materials and furnishings to create the structure. He started in December 2022 and had a new home in just three weeks, thanks to a little help from his friends. He also paid movers $635 to relocate the dumpster from the manufacturer to the construction site to the lot.
The home extends upward from the 25-square-foot dumpster base, and the majority of the living space is taken up by a kitchen equipped with a mini-fridge and tiny induction stovetop. There’s also a sink, fed by a water line that runs from a neighbor’s property, but no toilet. For bathroom breaks, Marshall heads to a portable toilet on the lot. He showers at work and the gym.
When it’s time for sleep, Marshall climbs up to a bed that’s elevated above the single room. For entertainment, he relies on a Wi-Fi dongle to stream Netflix shows on his laptop. He does have electricity but uses such a small amount it’s already included in the cost.
Marshall says that he has no plans to live in the dumpster long term, but notes that it’s hard to beat the price and the convenience of his 15-minute bike ride to work. According to his TikTok, this will be his address for the next year.
He’s been documenting his life in the Skip House on the social media platform. In this video, for example, he shows how he accomplishes some daily activities, like working, cooking and sleeping.
@the.skiphouse Life in the Skip House on a Friday afternoon. #tinyhouse #london #art #interiordesign #interiordesign #tinyhome #architecture â¬ Abstraction
He explains that he’s getting used to life managing the inconveniences, but in fact the most challenging part of his daily life is all the attention his home is getting from tourists.
“With its ups and downs, I’ve turned my living situation into an art piece,” he explains in the CNBC piece. “It shines light on the absurdity of London’s housing crisis in a way that makes people smile and think.”