Why This Architect Will Build Tiny Houses All over France

French architect Billy is on a mission. Ever since he and his wife built their own Tiny House, he’s convinced that the minimalist dwellings can help city folk escape the daily grind, reconnect with nature, and adopt a new mindset. That’s why Billy’s going to build Tiny Houses all over France.

Billy Puchaux is a 33-years-old architect who, for 10 years, worked at the biggest architecture agencies in Lyon. He’s garnered quite the resume, working as project manager and associate, and could be well on his way to being a partner in some respected firm. But Billy wanted to put his skills to use in a different way. 

A passionate hiker and lover of the great outdoors, Billy thinks many of us would be better off adopting a minimalist lifestyle, simpler and more respectful of our environment. A lifestyle away from today’s social and consumerist standards and. “Somewhere along our quest for material and social fulfilment, we’ve lost contact. With ourselves and more importantly with our environment and the people who live there.” 

The pandemic put things in perspective for the young, yet experienced architect. He became more aware of the social and ecological issues at stake in the years to come – and decided to act. “In 2021 I created YAWA, with the aim of bringing positive change to a generation increasingly disconnected from the outdoors. I want to allow city dwellers like myself to easily retreat to nature to get away from the sometimes burdensome daily grind and adopt a different mindset. 

“It’s natural to want to be challenged and create things, but making a living should not be confused with having a life. We need to get away from the office. Get outside!”

Architect couple on a Tiny House mission 

Billy’s been following the Tiny House movement for about five years. During that time, he got increasingly interested and involved. “My little family and I spent many vacations in different Tiny Houses all over France. Some of them were installed in beautiful places in the middle of nature. These experiences marked us so much that I said to myself: it is necessary to spread the word about  this kind of experience to a maximum of city dwellers.”

Through designing and building Tiny Houses, Billy aims to get people to disconnect from their duties and devices and promote a simple and awake lifestyle.

But Billy doesn’t just want to offer an escape for urbanites. “Tiny Houses are the perfect tool to transform the current mass tourism into a more ecological and local tourism, bringing new life to our neglected rural areas.”

And so their YAWA adventure started. On one hand, from an awareness of the environmental and social problems we’re facing. On the other, a strong desire to live more simply. Billy’s wife is also an architect and for several years they worked on the project of designing their own Tiny House as their main residence. 

Adopting a minimalist lifestyle

The architect couple have since adopted a minimalist lifestyle, seriously questioning the way they conceive their architecture. “Just like good design, life is best lived with what is necessary and nothing more. [Tiny Houses] give you the opportunity to cut yourself off from the world for a short stay, recharge your batteries and retreat in style. Escaping to a Tiny House in the middle of nature becomes as natural as going to the office.”

“Everything is put in place to allow a simpler and more intense life. The location of the Tiny Houses often implies that there is not much telephone network available and it is so much better. It’s necessary to forget the obligations and the activities consuming mental energy to savour the present moment. To take the time to cook a good meal, to discuss with your partner, to hang out in bed, to do nothing, to share a beer by the fire. Simply finding yourself and recharging the batteries.”

Building Locally and Sustainably 

It’s important to Billy that his Tiny Houses align with his ideas of sustainability and local economy. “YAWA’s Tiny Houses are designed by our team of architects and specialised design offices. Then they’re manufactured entirely in France by our partner l’atelier des Branchés in Rennes. We brought together the best French craftsmen with strong savoir-faire to create high-performance, chic and high-end Tiny Houses to offer the best possible experience.”

“Normally it takes about 6 months to build a Tiny House. But that was before the health crisis! Unfortunately, the delays of orders are so long that it is difficult to keep the construction schedule.

“We work with wood from the forests of the Vosges which are managed in an eco-responsible manner. The health crisis has completely turned the wood market upside down. In addition to the soaring prices, we witnessed a lot of aberration with wood that literally went around the world to return to our territory. We are a young company and it was very difficult to keep our commitments to produce an ecological Tiny House entirely made in France. But we did not let go. It made us lose a lot of time and money but in the end we are proud to claim a project in accordance with our values.”

“Each Tiny House is equipped with solar panels for electricity, with ecological dry toilets to save water and with a rainwater collector. We have gathered the best of the low tech material to reach this autonomy and put in place simple and common sense innovations to avoid wasting energy, heat, coolness and especially water. You will surely think differently about your water and electricity consumption habits once you are back home.”

After a lengthy design and building process that involved thinking through the tiniest details and dealing with a hampered supply chain, YAWA deployed their first Tiny House in the spring of  2022. The AKELA Tiny House can be booked on Campanyon.

“For us, being a partner with the Campanyon platform was an obvious choice! We share the same values of the outdoors and glamping. We are delighted to be able to share our Tiny House experience with the community.”

Tiny Houses all over France

“The next step is to validate that our concept works and that it thrives in these uncertain times of crisis. But there is a real demand from the French people, who no longer want to drive 8 hours to get away from it all. The habits of holidaymakers have also evolved enormously: People don’t want to wait until August and sacrifice their whole annual vacation in one go. They understand that it’s in their interest to go away for a shorter period of time, but much more often and for a more ecological and responsible vacation.”

“If all goes well we are on our way to deploy our second Tiny House by the end of 2022 and we are currently working on dozens of sites in the middle of nowhere in France!”

Billy’s tips on building your own Tiny House

“First of all, you have to forget the way of living in a traditional house, and not try to fit in a Tiny House with the same elements that compose a house. Then it is necessary to create a project entirely made to measure. Because we all live differently.” 

“If you are a self-builder, the internet is full of useful information and testimonials from people who have embarked on the adventure. Plan your project carefully and be prepared for all eventualities. If you are working with a builder, check out the Atelier des Branchés in Rennes!”

Want to find out yourself out why Billy recommends staying in a Tiny House to any city dweller?  Try out his AKELA Tiny House or find countless Tiny Houses across Europe and Australia on Campanyon.