Modular tiny homes made of hemp could solve workforce housing

Tiny homes have been pitched as a way to downsize your lifestyle, go on vacation, or even as a way to house the homeless, but they also offer a possible solution for pricey towns like Aspen and the Hamptons. The high cost of real estate in resort communities—like Jackson Hole, Wyoming—means that while the need for jobs is plentiful, there’s often no place to house workers.

A company called Stay Kondo aims to change that. Created by Ryan Chadwick, owner of several restaurants and businesses in Aspen, Nantucket, Montauk, and New York City, Kondo plans to build modular tiny houses that can be used as workforce housing.

A single Kondo unit includes a downstairs area with bathroom, a pull-down dining table, a living room area with sofa, and a small kitchen. A lofted bedroom above sleeps 2 and the tiny home also comes fully equipped with solar panels, a skylight, rain water storage, insulation, rain gutters, and black and grey water storage.

A rendering of a single Kondo unit.

Courtesy of Stay Kondo

Where Kondo really sets itself apart is its choice of building materials: a hemp biocomposite shell. According to the Stay Kondo website, hemp is a lightweight, strong material that can be sustainably grown in the United States without herbicides. It also grows to maturity in 4 months, compared with lumber which can take 20 years.

The units—all made with industrial hemp—can be connected to allow for a range of different configurations, and 2 units together, called a “Kondo Connect,” can sleep 5 people comfortably.

In an email to Curbed, Chadwick explained that his goal is to ease the housing crunch in some of our country’s most expensive places and “build a ne2rk of Kondo Villages across the country.” Though the Kondo tiny homes won’t be for sale, Kondo plans to lease them to business owners, towns, or perhaps even ski resort operators as a way to house much-needed workers at affordable prices. The units could even be moved from one place to another, like to Aspen for the ski season and to Montauk in the summer.

The first Kondo prototype is currently under construction in Oregon, and Chadwick is talking to the East Hampton Town Housing Department about installing 6 400-square-foot Kondo units on a town-owned parcel in Montauk.

The interior of a single Kondo unit.

Courtesy of Stay Kondo

The front of 2 Kondo units connected together.

Courtesy of Stay Kondo

What a Kondo Village could look like.

Courtesy of Stay Kondo

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