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Last Updated: Monday, 6 September, 2004, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
10 unusual places to live
Shipping container
Your new home?

Finding and buying your first home has never been harder, we are told, so it should come as no surprise that many people are looking for other ways to live. And there are more than you might think. Here are 10 of the most striking - though not necessarily practical - ways to get ahead without getting a house.

1. The humble shipping container is more versatile than you might think. BBC Three's Guerrilla Homes transports a converted container around the country, depositing it in a variety of locations and surprising people with the number of mod cons it can fit. And you don't even have to stop at one - stacked homes have been created with eight or more containers combined.

2. The M-house, a cross between a house and a caravan, is also extremely versatile. It can be transported like a prefabricated house, but is more mobile. Crucially, it's practically custom-made for getting around planning regulations.

3. Fancy yourself as a sculptor? Then why not sculpt your own house? Cob building is an ancient technique whereby mud, sand, and straw are mixed together and shaped into a building. You have to make sure it's on firm foundations first, but on the bright side you can sculpt your furniture too.

4. If you can't stand cities, you're not alone. Neither could the Mongolians, who preferred to live in large temporary tent-like structures called "gers" or "yurts". These have been recreated today, using modern materials but still constructed along Mongolian principles: they can be put up in a few hours, and taken down again when you - or the leaders of your tribe - decide to move on.

Space frame
The Space Frame - customisable, lightweight and futuristic

5. If you want a slightly more futuristic twist to your temporary building, take a look at the 'Space Frame' house, designed, constructed and lived in by Danish artists N55 . Constructed along simple geometric principles with a triangular lattice structure, its inside resembles a spaceship - and they claim that it could be used in space too. And if you don't like it, its shell folds up so completely that you can store it "under the sofa". Where your sofa goes, though, is a bit more tricky.

6. And N55 haven't stopped there. If you want mobility but are pushed for space, perhaps you could consider what may be the smallest house in the world - their Snail Shell house. Shaped like a great wheel, it's small and light enough that moving house simply means turning it on its side and rolling it elsewhere. It even comes with a paddle in case you feel like living on water.

7. Alternatively, you could take the idea of the mobile home to a whole new level. Some people have chosen to buy buses for the specific purpose of living in. With the seats removed, they can be converted into anything you like.

Snail shell
Moving house is suddenly a lot easier with the Snail Shell

8. At the Findhorn community in Scotland, a pioneer in alternative housing, a particularly novel type of house has been produced from the giant barrels used in the making of whisky. It might not be a good idea to stay indoors too much, though.

9. For housing with an extra dimension, leave the ground and try a tree house instead. As you'd expect from one of the oldest forms of alternative housing around, all kinds of types are available - even fully furnished spheres, suspended from the branches.

10. Finally, if even the thought of staying on land repels you, you could always follow the example of Roy Bates, who set up home on a disused WWII anti-aircraft fortress in the North Sea. You might not want to go quite as far as calling it a sovereign principality, however, as Roy (or rather, Prince Roy of Sealand) did, along with issuing passports, stamps and currency.

On Guerrilla Homes, which was broadcast on 6 September on BBC Three at 1930 BST, architect Charlie Luxton looked at ingenious ways of solving the nationwide crisis in affordable housing.


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