Tiny homes are increasingly touted as the new eco-friendly American dream for Millennials--but what if the micro-housing trend could also be combined with adaptive reuse to solve the shortage of urban housing? An interdisciplinary team of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) students, staff, and alumni explored that question by transforming an underused Atlanta parking deck into SCADpad, a community of three micro-residence prototypes. No bigger than the footprint of a parking space, each 153 square foot unit is themed after three continents where SCAD maintains a campus: North America, Asia, and Europe. Combining urban design, architecture, and artful living, this unique micro-housing experiment is unlike anything we've seen before. Inhabitat was invited to join the official unveiling and even spent the night in a SCADpad unit. Read on to get the scoop on these innovative micro houses and the possible future face of urban living.
According to the 2012 U.S. Census, there are 105 million parking spaces in the United States–a number that roughly translates to five parking spaces for every registered car. As personal automobile ownership declines and demand for dense urban living increases, SCAD wants to turn the growing obsolescence of the parking garage into an opportunity for adaptive reuse. Often located in areas of prime real estate, these underused parking garages could be redeveloped into attractive and affordable urban housing, particularly for young professionals. “Parking structures are cold, uninhabitable spaces built for cars, not humans,” said Christian Sottile, Dean of the School of Building Arts, SCAD. “At SCAD, we see many of these 20th century structures as a huge adaptive reuse and historic preservation opportunity to bring art and design together to delight the user and sustainably evolve these buildings already in place.”
The three pilot SCADpad units were designed and developed over ten months by an interdisciplinary team of 75 SCAD students, 37 alumni, and 12 SCAD professors from 12 academic degree programs, spanning architecture to interactive game development. In addition to the fully furnished micro houses and communal spaces, the experimental community also includes a hands-free 3D printing work station; a bicycle and scooter parking area; a community garden watered with filtered graywater and lit by a Parans fiber-optic daylighting system; and “NuBox” waste management containers built from reclaimed wood and equipped with bins for recycling, composting, and trash disposal.
Most impressively, almost everything in the SCADpad community, from the prefabricated micro units down to the cutlery, was designed and built by a SCAD student, staff, or alumni. The difference between SCADpad and other tiny mobile houses, says Jose Mallabo, Senior Vice President of SCAD Marketing and PR, is that “they’re not just dwellings–they’re pieces of art.” Indeed, the attention to detail at SCADpad is outstanding. Visitors are encouraged to view every corner of the transformed parking deck again and again, with each visit uncovering something new.
Each 135 square foot SCADpad dwelling comprises a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, storage, and five star energy HVAC systems. The tiny modular homes are also equipped with futuristic home automation systems that can be remote controlled from an iPad. Energy efficient smart glass turns windows from transparent to translucent with a simple press of a button; the SCADNimbus service system, developed by SCAD service design students, is also triggered by heightened humidity levels and will automatically activate the smart glass if the resident is showering. Philips Hue LED smart bulbs use Wi-Fi to change colors and switch on and off remotely. Each house is clad in striking custom art interiors and exteriors inspired by the cities of SCAD’s satellite campuses.
Wrapped in a pastel geometric façade designed by SCAD alumnus Will Penny, SCADpad Asia captures the style of SCAD’s Hong Kong location with a water motif complete with blood-orange netting and koi fish paper cut outs. The bamboo print wallpaper overlays a soundboard that produces randomized musical sounds when touched. SCADpad Europe’s blue lacquered wood panels and copper roof were inspired by the medieval architecture of the Lacoste campus in France. Inside, artist Trish Andersen’s colorful and interactive shag wallpaper surrounds the loft bed. For SCADpad North America, photography alumnus Marcus Kenney contrasts a minimalist facade with an intricate, Navajo-inspired mixed media interior.
SCAD also transformed each unit’s adjacent parking space into an exterior courtyard. The courtyards and larger communal gathering areas emphasis a sense of community and transforms the uninhabitable parking deck into an inviting livable environment. Spacious corner lots overlook stunning views of Atlanta’s skyline and freeway and are furnished with custom-designed furniture by SCAD students. Artificial turf, wall mounted air plants, and raised planter boxes bring nature and environmental stewardship into SCADpad.
SCAD estimates that the units could be constructed in as little as one to two months at a projected base cost of $40,000. SCADpad is approved for a 90 day temporary occupancy permit and will house 12 lucky SCAD students from the Atlanta and Savannah locations for one-week trial intervals starting April 15. “The development of SCADpad was more than a classroom learning experience for our students,” said Paula Wallace, president and co-founder of SCAD. “After decades of success as a relevant university preparing students for creative careers, we’ve learned to build bridges from collegiate inquiry to real life solutions. SCADpad is a testament to the power of innovation, intellectual prowess, research and collaboration.”
Images © Lucy Wang