We love stories about youth channelling their ideals into life-changing projects, especially when there are tiny homes involved. Last year, with guidance from the non-profit organization Sawhorse Revolution and various architecture, construction, and engineering professionals, a group of teens designed seven tiny homes for the Nickelsville homeless community network in Seattle. With construction, made possible by a successful crowdfunding campaign, nearing completion, the team is back with plans to build four more moveable eco-friendly structures, including a tiny house duplex that’s ideal for families.
Nickelsville comprises a network of self-governed homeless encampments on city-sanctioned land throughout Seattle. They are transitional communities, and their inhabitants move every three to 18 months. As a result, the homes and other structures that Sawhorse teens build have to be mobile. Following their successful crowdfunding campaign last year, Sawhorse Revolution has launched Impossible City 2: youth-built homes for homeless. They hoping to raise around $21,000 to build additional tiny homes, a security booth, and a duplex.
Sawhorse Revolution program director Sarah Smith told Inhabitat, “Our second Indiegogo campaign has been inspired by the impact these houses make – on so many levels. First is the experience our students have learning about homelessness. Design requires empathy; when they design a tiny house for someone experiencing homelessness, our youth must research, interview, and put themselves in the shoes of our clients.”
The Parabay Homes duplex design acknowledges that families can’t always squeeze into 120 square feet. So last summer, students conceived a design that expands the space with two separate structures, yet facilitates connection between family members in their respective sections. Another design will make it more comfortable for the camp residents who staff a 24-hour security booth that also acts as an entrance and hub in each village. Lastly, the team plans to design “Tiny Home #9” that will “prototype murphy bed construction and other moving canopy parts that can expand living area without violating city codes.”
According to Sawhorse Revolution, Seattle has approved six camps to provide transitional housing for area homeless. The camps work with the Low Income Housing Institute to provide temporary refuge until affordable housing opens up for people unable to sustain rising rent prices.
“There’s a sense of motivation and purpose when we work together on these tiny homes – the teens, builders, volunteers, and designers that make up a project team for the Sawhorse Revolution tiny homes are transformed by sharing a common purpose,” Sarah said. “Learning in this setting is not abstract – it’s got a real motivation, and this allows our youth to learn crucial skills as they provide shelter and dignity for those who need it most.”