University at Buffalo students are constructing tiny homes to fight homelessness | News | #students | #parents


Students from the University at Buffalo have embarked on the construction of three tiny homes to help combat homelessness. Led by Brad Wales, a clinical assistant professor at the university’s Department of Architecture, the initiative forms part of a design-build program within the school called the Small Built Works Project.

Tilt House render. Image courtesy of University at Buffalo
The process began with students designing prototypes for tiny houses, which were developed into permit-ready construction documents for three homes in Syracuse, New York. Construction on the homes began in June 2022, and are expected to be completed by June 2023.

Passive Solar House render. Image courtesy of University at Buffalo

For Wales, the project is the latest of dozens of projects undertaken in the Small Built Works Project’s 21 year history, which has secured nine building permits to develop and install public benefit projects across Buffalo. The program has been focused on affordable housing since 2017, and saw its first housing project constructed in 2020.

Passive Solar House drawings. Image courtesy of University at Buffalo

For the latest project, the program partnered with a Syracuse nonprofit named A Tiny Home for Good, which builds quality homes on vacant lots and renovates derelict properties across the city; homes which are then rented to an individual who has faced homelessness.

Passive Solar House drawings. Image courtesy of University at Buffalo

“Our organization is usually on such a time crunch. Our goal is to build houses fast for as many people in need in Syracuse,” said Andrew Lunetta, the nonprofit’s founder and executive director. “That a group of students spent so much time, a whole semester, thinking about how we can build better homes – it was a game-changer.”

Passive Solar House drawings. Image courtesy of University at Buffalo

UB architecture students worked in teams to design five 360-square-foot tiny home prototypes, three of which will be constructed. Over three months, the 14 students brought the three homes to permit-ready status; skills which Wales is confident will be of great benefit to them as they embark on their professional careers.

Passive Solar House drawings. Image courtesy of University at Buffalo

“The pressure of having to produce something that was actually going to be built soon, and do so in such a short time, made the course even tougher,” said UB graduate Lauren Herran, one of the project participants. “We all had to work pretty hard to get our design finalized and make sure that we were producing finished drawings.”

Passive Solar House drawings. Image courtesy of University at Buffalo

“It was important that all three designs needed to benefit the users and make sure that they brought them a feeling of security and privacy, but also allowed for them to have their own space in which they could have healthy interactions with their neighbors,” Herran continued. “This project gave me some first-hand experience of how I can put this into practice.”

Passive Solar House drawings. Image courtesy of University at Buffalo

The project is one of several recent examples of architecture student works being taken to construction. Last month, we reported on a newly completed shelter designed and built by architecture students from Drury University in Missouri, as well as an ADU in Houston, Texas by students from Rice University.

Passive Solar House drawings. Image courtesy of University at Buffalo

Back in April, a team of students and faculty from Virginia Tech completed a world-first observation tower using innovative low-carbon timber, while separately, the University of Virginia campus played host to an expo of biomaterial structures created by students and scholars from across the United States.



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