Does England have the smallest houses in Europe? A view from the road.

    Does house size matter?

    I believe it does, but I don’t necessarily believe bigger is better.

    As we drove through Belgium I was stuck by the size of plots, and the houses that sat on them. The individuality was exciting too.

    In Germany the size increased still further, but the individuality wasn’t there. Sorry Germany, I love your country, but the architecture seems to shout “Make it bigger” but not much else.


    Now that we’re in Denmark it’s all change again.

    Ribe, the first town on our route, is picture perfect. It’s the oldest town in Scandinavia and alongside its pretty housing and dramatic cathedral the centre is all interesting looking shops, and great restaurants. It’s Denmark and so there are attractive people all around, eating outside under huge umbrellas, oblivious of the rain.

    Pretty, and old, Ribe. Denmark’s oldest town.

    Next up is the stunning visitor centre before the island of Mando. Created by Dorte Mandrup, Denmark’s favourite female architect, this is a masterpiece in thatch. Thatch? Yes, even the walls.

    This is thatch, even the walls. The visitor centre for the wetlands.

    The scent of Denmark?

    Dog rose – millions upon millions of bushes, all in bloom.

    Elderflower – many thousands of bushes.

    Pine – it’s not that warm so the scent is muted.

    Honeysuckle – sweet in the evening.

    Back to the housing theme

    Perhaps this first overnight stop at Hjerting happens to be in the architectural capital of the country, but the lack of mentions online would suggest otherwise.

    In an hour’s walk towards Esbjerg we passed more interesting houses than I’ve seen for the year so far.

    Not all massive, in fact some are pretty modest, but even the most normal looking places were good.

    Balconies within the form – I’ll hold that in mind.

    There are also many seaside cabins, each a designer’s dream.

    My ultimate is this beauty, fronted by Brutalist concrete pillars. I so wanted to knock on and ask to look around.

    Brutal beauty.

    Interestingly nearly every house was occupied despite this being a resort – so different to Cornwall where it seems that too many decent houses are empty holiday homes.

    Super modern, next door to Hobbit House.

    Our site for the night is right on the beach and while all around us people have probably spent a million to build, we’ll camp for free. There’s even a clean toilet here that’s free to use – with a shower!

    The Man Meets The Sea, Esbjerg.


    Yes. Apparently England does have the smallest housing in Europe.

    Our average house size is 76.2 square metres.

    Germany is a lot bigger at 109 square metres.

    But here in Denmark the average is a massive 137 square metres – it seems to be the highest square meterage in Europe. And that’s the average!

    What must they do in there?

    I think the English average is ample – it’s not that we need more space, it’s that we fill our space with so much stuff. We must all know someone with a garage rammed with toys, tools and furniture that haven’t been touched since they were put there.

    Freeing yourself of all that stuff is liberating.

    Van life helps you think that way.

    We cleared out so many of our possessions before we moved our of Archavon, and haven’t missed a thing.

    Already we’ve had two edits of what we’re carrying in ArchieVan.

    Clothes have gone to charity shops, items that seemed good ideas but haven’t been touched have been left at campsites for others to take and enjoy.

    There will be deeper editing, as we further pare down to what we really need.

    It feels good.

    I promise!


    A drive up the coast with a lake on one side, the sea on the other, on the map it looked like it should be extra special.

    Two large bodies of water at different temperatures will create a near constant wind.

    Wavering reeds stretch for as far as the eye can see, topped by the kites of surfers skeeting over the lake surface.

    The wetlands of Ringkobing Fjord.

    Two bodies of water, one fresh, one saline, make for ideal wetlands, and so it’s a birds paradise. And one for twitchers too.

    Tonight we’re at a kite surfer’s car park by the Ringkobing Fjord.

    I thought fjord was a glacial super cove, but turns out it to be any kind of lake in Denmark. I look forward to the real thing in Norway later this month.

    One last buildings mention.

    Shelter, toilet, shower, dining rooms (all separate).

    Three of these little beauties make for shelter, dining, toilet and shower facilities. Cold showers, but showers nonetheless.

    Cold shower – but at least there was Molten Brown!

    What next for Britain?

    The wonderful services (and yes, high taxes) leaves me wondering again how did Britain slip so far behind, and how much worse will it get post Europe? Don’t be depressed though, all this will still be here for us to envy, it’ll just be a bit harder to get to.

    4 Replies to “Does England have the smallest houses in Europe? A view from the road.”

    1. Judith Hunt says: Reply

      I agree that de-cluttering is so liberating, we took a leaf from your book and have done the same thing even a garage that had 40 year old stuff!!!!!!!
      I am thrilled to see Denmark and it has some massive structures, flat landscape and loads of water–not sure my cup of tea!!!!

    2. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

      Thanks Judith – I can’t quite see you living in a van though!

    3. Not me either Kelvin, a Winnebago perhaps, but well no!!

    4. KC in his element . . . architecture in many guises littered all over the place!

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