Was the first tiny house on wheels in the world built and crowdfunded in Poznań, Poland in 1908?

Every child in Poland learns about Michał Drzymala and his tiny house on wheels. But hardly anyone realizes that he should be recognized as one of the precursors to the tiny house movement on a global scale.

110 years ago, in March 1908, Drzymala’s tiny house on wheels was completed in Poznań, Poland, at the renowned those days Dzieciuchowicz&Lambe Carriage Factory.

 Drzymala's house in front of Carriage Factory, 1908, Łąkowa Street, Poznań, Poland. Source: http://www.historiarakoniewic.pl/michal-drzymala/

Drzymala's house in front of Carriage Factory, 1908, Łąkowa Street, Poznań, Poland. Source: http://www.historiarakoniewic.pl/michal-drzymala/

It is amazing that his house had very similar dimensions and structure to currently built tiny houses:

  • 8 meters in length
  • 2.5 meters wide
  • 2.3 meters high
  • The wall, floor and roof were made of double boards. Between them, natural cork was used as insulation.
  • Inside there were two rooms - a quite spacious kitchen (3x2.5 m) with a window and a living area with three windows, separated with glazed doors, fashionable also today.
  • It had two entrances at each end and was heated by a stove. It was painted white inside and partly finished with velvet. Outside it was painted yellow with green shutters.
  • Of course it was not towed by the car, but by horses.

How did this happen? Who was the owner? It was built for Michał Drzymała, a Polish countryman from Wielkopolska region. Drzymała did not get permission from the Prussian authorities to build a new normal house in Podgradowice, the village where he lived near Poznań. Poland was then partitioned, and the Poles had a number of difficulties and limitations in the field of a settlement. Ingenious Michał Drzymała decided at first to live in a circus wagon (in 1904), to not to be a subject to this law, but it occurred that the wagon was heavily damaged and was not properly adapted to the everyday life.

 Michał Drzymała and his wife Józefą. Source: http://www.historiarakoniewic.pl/michal-drzymala/

Michał Drzymała and his wife Józefą. Source: http://www.historiarakoniewic.pl/michal-drzymala/

The Drzymała case became well known across whole Europe. Famous writers described and defended him, among others: Leo Tolstoy, Maurice Maeterlinck, George Wells, Gerhardt Hauptman, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Maria Konopnicka and Bolesław Prus; his story appeared in "Berlin Daily”, London's "Graphic" or "Illustration" from Paris. In order to build a new and properly equipped home, a fundraising action was organized locally - today we would say it was the crowdfunding campaign. Thanks to it in 1908 he got his brand new house on wheels, built from scratch and prepared for transport.

 1908, transport of the house to the village where Drzymała lived. Źródło: https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micha%C5%82_Drzyma%C5%82a

1908, transport of the house to the village where Drzymała lived. Źródło: https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micha%C5%82_Drzyma%C5%82a

And although eventually a few years later he lost the trial in Berlin, he became a symbol of the struggle for his identity and right to settle. Let us underline what is the most important for us: that he wanted to ensure a minimum of dignity in life for his family, he wanted freedom, was inventive and determined. Everything probably we all want for ourselves also today.

REDUKT greets from Poznan, it turns out that ingenuity and mobility are in our genes, and now we are looking into the future!

Sources: