Builder and designer Alex Wyndham
Alex Wyndham Designs Tiny Buildings
Santa Barbaran Builds Small Structures
Thursday, June 8, 2017
“If you want something, just make it!” goes the personal mantra of Santa Barbara designer Alex Wyndham. Those seven words encompass the designer’s creative spunk that launched his building career and continues to bring his whimsical designs to life.
Wyndham opened his design business a mere six months ago, though he is anything but a novice. While he designs buildings of all sizes, Wyndham ventured into tiny architecture in 2009, after building the Hawk House, a seven-by-nine-foot cabaña with a breathtaking panoramic ocean view. The redwood bark walls and wildflower-covered roof embody his design philosophy: “The design of the building should relate really closely to the site and the environment around it … buildings should enhance the ecosystems around them,” he says.
Only one exam away from his full architect’s license, Wyndham began his career with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies. After graduating from UCSB, Wyndham worked as an ecologist, studying how organisms interact with their respective environments. But Wyndham wanted more. “I’ve always been creative and have always liked to draw,” he explains. Wyndham went on to complete his master’s in architecture at the University of Oregon.
Soon after, the sunlit continent of Australia beckoned him. “I basically got a one-way ticket there and spent three months looking around, interviewing … then got a job in Sydney,” he says. For one year, he worked alongside an architect while taking advantage of the “good surf” offered by brisk Australian waters.
This wasn’t the first time Wyndham lived abroad. The travel bug bit him at a young age when he and his family moved from Los Angeles to Uruguay, a rural country in South America. The humble farm he called home lacked running water and electricity but boasted acres of land large enough to hold Snowball, his “big, fat white horse.” “We’d cruise down to the creek, and I’d ride bareback on [her]. That was always really fun,” Wyndham describes.
Fast-forward to April 2016, where the talented Wyndham built the tiny house for a couple featured in the hit TV show Tiny House Nation. The tiny house includes the same amenities of a regular-sized home but is built on an 8-by-20-foot trailer with 12-foot-high ceilings. “It was crazy … I was able to build the thing in nine days,” he says.
By Brandon Yadegari
Alex’s chicken coop
In another display of swiftness, Wyndham designed and built the Hen House in just one week. This fanciful coop stores more than just chickens — the steel roof seconds as an irrigation system to capture rain. This ingenuity makes Wyndham’s designs hard to beat. “I like to be creative and make the things I envision,” he says. Considering Wyndham’s brilliant mind, there is no project too big, nor too tiny.