Philadelphia-based firm ISA has unveiled a stunning, 1,250-square-foot home that spans over a six-level steel tower. Located in the booming neighborhood of Brewerytown, the tiny tower, which is built to EnergyStar performance standards, is just 38 feet high but designed to operate like a full-scale skyscraper. The innovative, energy-efficient home was designed to demonstrate that going vertical could be the solution to the many urban design issues that are plaguing growing cities around the world.
According to the architects, the tiny tower is a concept that could serve as a prototype for flexible-use buildings on underused urban lots with minimal building space. Built on a very compact 12’ by 29’ lot, the six-floor structure is a wooden frame covered in recycled steel paneling.
Going vertical enables each floor to define its own use. The interior living spaces are linked by a vertical circulation, the staircase, providing the design with optimal flexibility. Although the tower design could be used as retail or office space, this layout also works perfectly for any family home.
The lower levels of the tiny tower are dedicated to social areas, such as a window garden and open-air terrace, while the remaining upper levels are free to be used for individual purposes according to the family’s lifestyle. Connected to the main living volume is the staircase, which was strategically designed to be an integral part of the home. It provides a light-filled center that offers views of the exterior from every floor.
According to the architects, the tower home could just be the next new thing for modern couples looking to live in urban areas. “Urban dwellers are increasingly willing to trade quantity of space for quality,” the firm said. “Living in a small unit in a vibrant, walkable neighborhood is more desirable than a larger home in a far-flung location. Tiny Tower demonstrates how small in scale can feel large in amenity and experience.”
In addition to its potential to provide a viable solution for affordable urban housing, the home was also designed to be incredibly energy-efficient. Built to EnergyStar performance standards, the tiny tower uses a number of passive and active techniques to insulate the home. For starters, the white roof membrane significantly reduces summer heat gain. Ductless mini-split units on each level create individually controlled micro-zones throughout the interior; this also reduces energy use.
Photography by Sam Oberter Photography via ISA Architects