Architecture, design students manufacture microscopic house
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette School of Architecture and Design is in the midst of working on their 15th Building Institute Project.
This year’s project is called the MODESTEhouse. It is being built on 8 feet by 20 feet trailer and is estimated it will be about 200 square feet at its completion. Plans are to give the house a small patio and form the north gridwall from polycarbonate glazing filled with an insulated gel developed by NASA.
Geoff Gjertson, professor in the School of Architecture and Design, is overseeing the building with his group of 13 students. He said he is excited about both the enthusiasm his students have exhibited towards the project, as well as the house’s unique aspects.
“The innovative construction,” Gjertson said. “It’s different than anything I’ve ever built before.”
The house will cost around $30,000 to construct, according to the group behind MODESTEhouse. Funding for the production comes from local home-building groups. Lafayette’s Habitat for Humanity donated $15,000, the Acadiana Home Builders Association donated $1,000 and Lafayette Construction Specifications Institute contributed $1,000. Other groups, such as Amerilux, discounted the price of supplies. Now, the MODESTEhouse is well underway.
The designing began at the beginning of the semester with the group of 13 students each designing a tiny house of their own. From those designs, they narrowed down the choices and agreed to the current design. Although the group has been working for the past three weeks, they said they expect the project to be completed by the end of the summer semester.
The students working on the project said they were enjoying producing this home for someone in need as well as the hands-on experience of creating designs.
“It’s good to get the experience in building something,” said Page Comaux, a senior in architecture. “It’s really fulfilling.”
Alexandra Carr, senior in architecture and fellow student on the project, agreed.
“It’s going to help to see how to build it,” Carr said. “It’s not every day we get hands on experience.”
Along with generous donations, various professionals have come to work with the students on the MODESTEhouse. Expert builders, craftsmen and engineers have all come to aid with their experience.
Gjertson said he would really like to avoid the idea that homeless people should be forced into tiny homes.
“We’re trying to show that tiny houses are not just some fashionable thing,” he said.
Although the tiny house movement has become rather popular, as can be seen by shows like Tiny House Hunters, this project was not intended as an addition to that, according to Gjertson. Habitat for Humanity had already been helping the potential owners the house was intended for with a small home or trailers. Unlike trailers, however, the MODESTEhouse will not lose value over time. In fact, the use of natural light and the unique walls promise and appreciation in value.
Gjertson said he hopes the project will continue. The goal is to build the home with a manual that will allow for easy replication of houses of its design. He said he believes this is the perfect project to help the students learn while helping the homeless and those in need.
Notable past projects include the Lafayette Strong Pavilion, a gridshell fixture located on Camellia dedicated to victims of The Grand 16 shooting, and the BeauSoleil Louisiana Solar Home, which placed first in the International Solar Decathlon Competition in Market Viability and People’s Choice in 2009.