As the “tiny house” craze continues to sweep the nation and dominate cable television, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has contributed his own unique take on the small space living nation by creating Airstream Park. Located in downtown Las Vegas, Airstream Park is an experiment in communal living, as inspired by the iconic Burning Man festival, combined with a movement to revitalize downtown. The result is an upgraded, hipster, technosavy trailer park.
Las Vegas’ Airstream Park, affectionately called “Llamapolis” for its many camelid residents, was founded in 2013 and provides permanent and temporary homes for both alpacas and human residents all on a single acre in downtown Las Vegas.
A 240-square-foot airstream trailer rents for $1,200 a month, which includes Wi-Fi, utilities and a number of amenities unique to Airstream Park. The Airstreams are upgraded and high tech, offering wood paneling, stainless steel appliances and multiple televisions. Airstream residents share a number of communal amenities, including a kitchen housed in a shipping container, a community pantry, laundry facilities and an outdoor “living room” with multiple fire pits. The Tumbleweed tiny houses are only 140 square feet and feel much homier than the Airstreams, with the Tumbleweed’s cabin-like aesthetic and much less technology.
The concept is that the Airstreams are situated around a central living and activity area. Private living rooms become unnecessary because the communal activity area functions as a family room with a playground, 2 swimming pools and an activity area in addition to fire pits for more intimate gatherings. The activity area includes a stage that features a screen and projector with Apple TV and a communal iPad for outdoor movies. Near the rear of the park, a large Airstream bus is crowned by a rooftop deck, a favorite spot for residents to relax. The development also offers an indoor office and lounge area for residents.
The entire living experiment that is Airstream Park is inspired, in part, by the founder’s devotion to the communal experience of Burning Man. In that spirit, then, musicians often perform in the communal activity area, and the park boasts a number of art installations. Impromptu social gatherings often take place among the mixture of full- and part-time residents.
The community is enclosed by a five-foot high concrete wall designed for safety, but residents report that the wall also creates a sense of a connected and self-contained community.
Airstream Park maintains several empty Airstreams to be used as short-term rentals by guests of residents. Potential residents must be recommended by current residents, and there is a mandatory one-week trial period for any new residents. This is a time for both new and current residents to decide whether the newcomers are a good fit for the community or not. It functions as a way to protect the sense of community so carefully crafted by Hsieh and the other residents.
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Airstream Park began its life as an average trailer park some decades ago. After falling into disrepair and eventually becoming little more than a vacant lot, it was revitalized by Hsieh and his utopian dream. Might Airstream Park provide a prototype for both urban revitalization and a new kind of intentional community life? The residents would answer a resounding, yes!