“Sleepbox” and the modular real estate of tomorrow

September 22, 2011

All right all right.  I hereby declare that I’m getting excited about this “Sleepbox” idea, and more importantly about where it can lead.

You get the idea.

It’s related to Tumbleweed Tiny Houses (which is a running real-deal business, by the way, so props there), only Sleepboxes are much smaller and mass-produced because they’re small enough to transport on trucks and trains.  They’re also more affordable than “houses” because–and this is key–they don’t get rained or snowed on.

OK.  Now.  Notice, if you please, how many of us (well, many of us without children, sigh) are approaching “traveler” status every day.  There’s a growing demographic who own:

  • A $2000 Apple laptop
  • four changes of clothes
  • a bicycle/Vespa

…and access all of their…

  • books
  • music
  • movies
  • correspondence
  • …and even a portion of their social life via Facebook/G+

through said $2000 Apple laptop.


Therefore, my mind is racing toward applying this business model in a more permanent direction:

I see a “marina” of these pre-fabbed baby housing units–most of them obviously imported from China–tastefully arranged over a defunct Suburban parking lot.  Interspersed are some nice ceramic planters with trees, flowers and such.

Parking and storage lockers off to the side, bus/train connections nearby.

In the center are (aggressively-cleaned) facilities for:

  • laundry
  • bathrooms
  • coffee/hanging out
  • milk and bananas
  • toothpaste and razor blades
  • playground

Over the top a geodesic dome roof, steel-frame with clear plastic panels, to keep rain and snow off.

Instant affordable housing, boom boom boom, set up in a month or two, just like that.

Also notice what other business aspects are facilitated by the “Marina” model.  For example: Heterogeneity of design and ownership.  Each individual unit could be owned by any of…

  • Its occupant
  • A private owner collecting rent
  • A bank
  • An investment corporation
  • A government

Physically, they can vary by…

  • source (China, Chicago or Milan)
  • design (Kmart, Ikea or custom)
  • footprint (kid, adult or couple)

Finally, note that these assets can be picked up and moved to somewhere else, in search of a better deal for their owners, occupants, or both.

All of these cacaphonous factors can help these places fly together quickly.

Of course, someone could instead borrow golden ingots from the Chinese Communist Party and cut them into super-thin slides to build big monotonous blocks of half-million-dollar condos… but who cares?  And besides, for how much longer will such big loans be available from anyone at all?


Addendum 1: Trailer parks match this business model quite closely, actually, and I feel rather dumb for not noticing that earlier.  Not exactly the same, but close.

One Response to ““Sleepbox” and the modular real estate of tomorrow”

  1. craigrmeyer Says:

    A big question that comes up for me with this is:

    “What about families? What about children?”

    It might not be that far a stretch. So maybe some of the units are big enough for two people. Or rather, maybe or Mom and Dad have to lease next-door units. How awful would that really be?

    And if they need to lease a little kiddie-pod across the path when the Little Wonderful starts to walk and wants her own room? Is that really so terrible?

    Once I have kids I’ll be able to comment more intelligently about this, but for now I’ll have to rely on you today-parents to help me make sense of this. And please do.

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