tiny office studio

Tiny Office Studio Build in Charlotte, NC [Aerial Video & Photos, Q&A]

Aerial video of tiny office built by Jes Sanders, Studio S Architecture.

Photos of a tiny office studio in Charlotte, NC.

Q & A with Jes Sanders, Studio S Architecture, builder of the Tiny Office.

1.    What are the dimensions of the office?

a.    The office is 10’x12’ in plan.  The height, however, grows from 10 feet, up to about 13 feet.  Inside feels really cavernous in a good way.  And a group called Patterson-Pope that partnered with me on this project (http://pattersonpope.com/) was generous enough to donate a full-height glass wall system.  The window wall is so large that the opening can take up your entire field-of-vision from the inside.

b.    This was inside-outside relationship was really important to me (and again, appreciative of Patterson-Pope really helping to make this aspect of the design happen).  Open views are a touchstone of my architectural philosophy.  There is an appetite for large spaces.  But I think that we can create more right-sized homes (and commercial spaces) that feel monumental, if we open up our rooms to the exterior.  And furthermore, few spaces we create can compete with an even average green space.

c.    From a budgetary point of view, adding large windows to a project does incur a higher up-front cost.  But there is savings to be had in making a building smaller, both in terms of initial construction costs, and in life-cycle heating, cooling, and maintenance costs. 

2.    How did you come up with the design?

a.    The design, as I mentioned, definitely began as an exercise in blurring the line between inside and outside.  And, to put it simply, I wanted to see a kick-ass view.

b.    The form came from a desire for simplicity.  This office is really a cube, the simplest constructible form, with only one architectural gesture. Even the roof is reduced to one slope, and the plywood inside is left in its natural state.

c.    There have been two jokes made about my inspiration.  Both are completely plausible ideas that could easily have crept into my subconscious psyche.

d.    One is the terrific, genuinely retro sign for Park Road Shopping center.  I live across the street from the shopping center, and see the sign – which I have a fondness for – almost daily.



f.     The other joke friends have made may come from another fondness.  Some have likened the studio to the Jawa Sandcrawler from the original ’77 Star Wars movie.  I fail to see the resemblance.  


3.    Where did the inspiration come from to make an office that could be set outside?

a.    Tiny houses are obviously a big trend.  But I think there is real opportunity for a new work model.  The professional world is growing more remote and virtual by the minute.  There are production and marketing tools available today that were inaccessible to the individual just a few years ago.  The Tiny Studio offers a creative, dedicated work space for the home worker or solo entrepreneur that is also able to be separated from home life.

b.    Also, the budget fits.  A full addition to a house could easily run many, many times the cost of a standalone “accessory structure”.

4.   How did you and the other company collaborate?

a.    Patterson-Pope contributed two items: 10-foot tall tempered glass window wall with a sliding door, and an office-grade work-surface with drawers. The casework has flat file plan drawers, and cubbies for rolled architectural drawings.  Their contributions undoubtedly took the project from a fun hobbyist’s shed, to a one-of-a-kind project, a real studio.

5.    What was the toughest part of the build?

a.    I am an architect, and I have actual construction background.  Even so, when you dig in to any building project, there is always a lot more to it than you imagine.  Conceptually, you may know how a building goes together.  But the actual execution of cutting and nailing every discreet piece takes infinitely longer than the animation you might have playing in your mind.  And if you are looking to build a Tiny building yourself, plan in a LOT of runs to the hardware and lumber store.  If you forget one small item, which you will, this means another road trip.  Luckily, my wife was awesome, and willing to make runs as long as I kept hammering away.

b.    The other part that was a challenge was just the time that it took, in terms of weekends.  You have to stay on a project like this.  If you lose a weekend, you will lose two, and that could become a month.  You have to keep the momentum, or you’re cooked.  And, this has to be you one hobby.  Forget your novel, forget your trips to Asheville, forget your brewery tour you had scheduled with old friends – not to put too fine a point on it, but this is going to be your “thing” for a while.

6.   What would you do differently next time?

a.    Despite the lamenting in the previous question, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change anything.  But I really was looking for an opportunity to get out from behind the desk and hit some wood.  Even so, and even though my studio is very tiny, it took a lot of effort. 

b.    I would recommend, if you are interested in constructing your own Tiny Whatever, to have someone else build it.

c.    My neighbors designed their own studio with a shed company.  (Josh Payne at The Shed Depot, 1-919-770-4702.)  It came out great!  They paid a comparable amount to what I put into my studio (including time and out-of-pocket cash), and they got their shed delivered on a truck, without all the (literal) heavy lifting that I had to do.  All of the construction was factory built in a controlled environment.  And it came out great!

d.    I am an architect, so I am looking to design these gems, and then partnering with builders to execute the designs.



f.    My neighbors’ rockin’ studio!

Jes Sanders
Studio S Architecture