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Tiny Homes for the Homeless

School: Realm Charter School

City/State: Berkeley, CA

Grade(s): 9, 10, 11, 12

Format(s): Architecture

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science and Technology, Visual Arts

Project Overview

During the 2014-2015 academic year, 85 high school students from REALM Charter School identified affordable housing as a social challenge they wanted to tackle using community-based architecture. Over the course of the year, students researched, designed, engineered, prototyped, and constructed two “tiny homes” on trailers, one to be auctioned off, and the other to be donated to a homeless individual living at Opportunity Village in Eugene, Oregon. The houses were identical twins, mirror images of each other, providing 100 square feet of comfortable living, sleeping, and storage space. Students were able to consider the social, environmental, physical, and cultural factors of affordable housing through the creation of these two units. Currently, the donated home is being occupied at Opportunity Village, while the other is home to a single mother and her daughter in Pasadena, California.

Studio H is an in-school design/build class for 6th-12th-grade students. First launched in Bertie County, NC and now based at Realm Charter School in Berkeley, CA, Studio H students apply their core subject learning to design and build audacious and socially transformative projects. Students of Studio H have previously dreamed up, designed, and constructed a 2000-square-foot farmers market pavilion, their own school library, a pop-up park, laser-etched skateboards, sculptural concrete public furniture, roadside farm stands, tiny homes, and more. Through experimentation, non-stop production, tinkering, and a lot of dirt under their fingernails, students develop the creative capital, critical thinking, and citizenship necessary for their own success and for the future of their communities.The work of Studio H is the subject of the full-length documentary If You Build It.

Project H uses the power of creativity, design, and hands-on building to amplify the raw brilliance of youth, transform communities, and improve K-12 public education from within. Programs 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.



How This Project Can Be Useful

  • This project is beautifully crafted in conception and execution. Students took on the issue of affordable housing and created a viable solution with community-based architecture.
  • This is a wonderful example of students contributing valuable work with an incredibly beautiful aesthetic in service of an authentic audience.
  • This complex project empowers students to use math, engineering, and architectural design to create a useful, practical product.

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