A design collaboration with Lawrence Fabbroni (Pittsburgh, PA) and Dr. Margaret Tarampi (Salt Lake City, UT), this ideas competition invited teams to develop a new typology for urban housing with a community of tiny homes to help address the problem of transitional homelessness in Raleigh, NC. Design submissions were to create 12 affordable and modular micro-housing unity on the .32 acre parcel, located just southwest of the city center. The site is walkable to downtown and adjacent to two bus lines and a nearby train station. Each unit was limited to just one occupant in 144 square feet including a bed, sitting/eating area, water closet, and lavatory. The community building was limited to 1,500 square feet including a kitchen, common area, work/study space, laundry, and showers. The only parking requirement was spaces for two cars at the community building.
Entitled “SHIFT”, the team’s proposal transforms a vacant and leftover site into a vibrant node within a developing neighborhood, provides dignified and inspired transitional housing, and proposes a novel mechanism for installation that promotes portability. The units themselves are pre-fabricated, tube steel frames and insulated boxes partially wrapped with a tube steel framed shell. The entire unit can be loaded on to a standard trailer and transported by pick-up truck without special permits, maximizing accessibility to remote sites. Sit preparation is limited to reinforced concrete piers at specified locations, so variations in existing topography can be accommodated without invasive grading. Once the unit is seated on its piers, the shell structure is mechanically shifted on its tracks out from the main box to create a porch that engages the street, courtyard, and adjacent units. The shell structure provides mounting space for a small array of tilt-up photovoltaic panels and integrates a rainwater collection basin that can be piped to rain barrels for garden irrigation. The living space’s overhead door may also be raised, blurring the division between interior and exterior space.