Students Design Tiny Homes for the Homeless

Students from the University at Buffalo, New York,  have embarked on the construction of three tiny homes to help combat homelessness. This initiative forms part of a design-build program within the school called the Small Built Works Project.

The students are designing prototypes for tiny houses, which are then 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.

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. These homes are then rented to individuals who face homelessness. “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. “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.”

Over three months, the architecture students worked in teams to design a total of five 360-square-foot tiny home prototypes. Wales is confident that these skills will be of great benefit to them as they embark on their professional careers.

“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.”

“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.”

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