Living Like Hermit Crabs

The picture book "All's Shell that Ends Shell" by a Wuppertal Institute's research project vividly illustrates what makes a good life – not only for crabs

  • News 20.05.2022
Picture book: All's Shell that Ends Shell
The German picture book "Tauschfest am Strand" (centre) and the English edition "All's Shell that Ends Shell" (right) were realised as part of the OptiWohn project. Source: Wuppertal Institute

To live safely and comfortably, hermit crabs need a house of suitable shape and size. When they grow, they have to look for a new one, if they shrink when they age, they need something smaller that fits. What can we learn from hermit crabs? Humans may not live in snail shells, but the search for an ideal home is an individual question and also a hot topic for us. While in some places there is a lack of affordable living space, vacancies are more of a problem elsewhere. Too little as well as too much living space can be a burden, not only structurally, but also individually.
The story of the hermit crabs in the picture book "All's Shell that Ends Shell" by Jarred Marlatt shows this clearly: while the snail shells have become too small for the young crabs, Gitti and Heinz, Grandma Siedler would like to swap her house for a smaller one. It becomes obvious that the right size of a home directly translates to a gain in quality of life.

But how can the house swap work in the real world? Old houses and flats can be renovated and remodelled, adapting them to the changing requirements and thus upgrading them for new generations. This does not only help to create more space for everyone, but also conserves resources. By only taking what you need and making the most of the space you have, you can ensure that there is enough for everyone else.
"The story of the crabs shows that sufficiency living means consciously dealing with my own living conditions and considering, for example, how much space I really need to be satisfied with my living situation," explains Anja Bierwirth, Head of the Urban Transitions Research Unit at the Wuppertal Institute. If a person's living condition changes and the children move out, for example, it is worth considering how to use the newly gained space. Perhaps a room can become a temporary accommodation for students, who in return help with the gardening or do the shopping." adds the researcher.

Susanne Zeyse wrote the German version of the book based on a story by Jarred Marlatt. Amelie Steffen and Marcie Albertson illustrated the crab adventure with colourful and lively drawings for the German and English editions. The book was developed within the OptiWohn project of the Wuppertal Institute and was finalised in cooperation with architekten. OptiWohn is committed to ensuring that housing is used efficiently and that there are suitable housing concepts for everyone.

The picture book "All's Shell that Ends Shell" is available for download free of charge via the link below.

Cookie Settings

Cookies help us to constantly improve the website for you. By clicking on the "Allow cookies" button, you agree to the use of cookies. For further information on the use of cookies or to change your settings, please click on More about the use and rejection of cookies.