Small Houses, Medium-Sized People, Big Ambitions
Project H Design is a Bay-Area nonprofit that empowers kids through design and building. For the last seven years, over 600 kids ages 9-17 have participated in their programs, which according to their website “teach rigorous design iteration, tinkering, applied arts and sciences, and vocational building skills to give young people the creative, technical, and leadership tools necessary to make positive, long-lasting change in their lives and their communities.” For the 2014-15 school year, their program is focused on tiny house design and construction.
A group of 70 high school and 150 middle school students have been looking at the tiny housing type with a number of inquiries in mind, namely: How is housing influenced by social and economic context? How does affordable access to housing empower communities or families? How does the design of a home uplift and inspire positive change in a person’s life?
In answering these questions and creating tangible, built answers, Project H created a program with different units. They start with the most basic aspects of designing and building like drawing and modeling skills. Each unit builds on the next, expanding the students’ skills; they look at tiny house precedents for design inspiration, draft and make cardboard models of different tiny house designs, conduct critiques of the students’ various designs and even build a mockup tiny dog house (pictured above) before they begin construction of two full-sized tiny houses.
The two houses are identically designed, each measuring 7’ x 16’ and trailer mounted. Currently, the houses are pretty far along, having been framed and insulated in the last couple months. The students’ current unit is sourcing siding from used palettes. They expect the houses to be complete by June. Project H provides regular updates and images on their tiny house project page.
One of the houses is already set to be donated to Opportunity Village, a tiny house colony for would-be homeless populations in Eugene, OR (Bay Area code prohibits tiny house living) and the second will be auctioned off to raise money for Project H.
There’s something very heartening to see these kids developing a deeper connection with their built environments–that housing is not something that magically appears or comes about without consideration about how it fits into a greater scheme of things.