The SaltBox Tiny House sits in a lively fabrication yard outside the Extraordinary Structures headquarters off Siler Road, surrounded by a sea of over 400 Santa Feans and visitors. People stand in line for hours in the blazing summer sun, chattering excitedly as they wait for their turn to step inside. Rumor has it there’s a full kitchen, two king size beds and a bathtub hidden inside the silver box at the center of the crowd. As they wait for a turn to see for themselves, folks puzzle over the construction of this modern marvel. Even its panelized exoskeleton seems to hum with a mysterious energy.
We were there to capture the excitement at the Extraordinary Structures Tiny Open House in June. Startup cofounders Zane Fischer and Katherine Lee are our next-door neighbors, and it’s been incredible to watch the SaltBox transform from a skeletal wooden frame to a full-fledged dwelling right outside our office. Extraordinary Structures is Santa Fe’s branch of the tiny home movement, a trend based on making use of newly available technology to create smaller, smarter and owner-assembled housing. The Open House was the official debut of their very first prototype, and though the event was an exuberant festival, the SaltBox was conceived to solve a very real problem. The company aims to meet Santa Fe’s housing crisis head-on, by blending state of the art technology and creative design with community advocacy.
Income inequality is a hot topic in current political discourse, and with good reason. There is a troubling gap between how much the majority of Americans are earning, and the cost of decent housing; and that gap continues to grow. Santa Fe, New Mexico, is one of the many communities in the United States struggling with a housing affordability crisis. In the past year, the City of Santa Fe has collected data that shows a majority of Santa Fe’s workforce lives outside the city limits due to the high cost of living. Additionally nearly half of those who are living in Santa Fe are burdened with the cost of housing adding up to more than a third of their income. These numbers have real social effects on the Santa Fe community including a steady decline of residents in the 18-54 age bracket, and 18 percent of Santa Fe’s population living in poverty. Extraordinary Structures is comatting these troubling statistics by exploring the problem and presenting an achievable action for positive change. What an inspiration!
Get a glimpse inside the SaltBox in our video from the Tiny Open House, and learn more about Extraordinary Structures here.