Gothic-revival styled house built in 1875


House – building or structure that functions as a habitat for humans or other creatures. The term house includes many kinds of dwellings ranging from rudimentary huts of nomadic tribes to complex structures composed of many systems. The social unit that lives in a house is known as a household. Most commonly, a household is a family unit of some kind, though households may be other social groups, organizations, or individuals.

Living spaces

  • multi-use – work, entertaining
  • lighting, ventilation
  • cooking
  • toilet
  • personal hygiene

Essentials – How much is enough? This is determined by personal preference, and often by local regulations. Many communities have restrictions on minimum size, foundations, and construction.

  • sanitation – drinking water, grey water, waste treatment, composting, trash
  • construction – materials, insulation
  • energy – connection to the grid, solar, propane, fireplace, heating, cooling

Innovative housing designs come in many different shapes and sizes. Each has a unique advantage over traditional housing designs.

  • Tiny house on wheels – Small, compact, cozy – all great descriptions for these very “livable” little houses. And they are relocatable if the owner wants or needs to hit the road. * tiny house on wheels (video 3:00) – Jay Shafer’s tumbleweed house video has inspired many others to create tiny houses. * Tiny Living – 140-square-foot home couple designed and built. Constructed on a trailer bed and parked in Snohomish, Washington, the house is more than enough space for them and their cat, the couple says. * Small homecamper trailer Some people can get their houses built on a regular foundation but the codes are different in every community. Some communities require a house to be no less than 900 sq ft. So building it on wheels leaves you free to build as small as you want. Its just hard for most people to find a place to park it outside of rv parks. Plus permits for regular house can be costly. A tiny house on wheels all you have to do is register the trailer.
  • Lightweight, low-impact, small and efficient – 10 innovative, lightweight houses including designs that sit up on stilts, float on water, or can be delivered by flat-bed truck … and they all weigh a great deal less than standard bricks and mortar.

Housing innovation from the past

  • Xanadu Houses were a series of experimental homes built to showcase examples of computers and automation in the home in the United States. The architectural project began in 1979, and during the early 1980s three houses were built in different parts of the US: one each in Kissimmee, Florida; Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin; and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The houses included novel construction and design techniques, and became popular tourist attractions during the 1980s. The Xanadu Houses were notable for being built with polyurethane insulation foam rather than concrete, for easy, fast, and cost-effective construction. They were ergonomically designed, and contained some of the earliest home automation systems. The Kissimmee Xanadu, designed by Roy Mason, was the most popular, and at its peak was attracting 1000 visitors every day. It was closed in 1996 and demolished in October 2005.
  • Sears Catalog Homes were ready-to-assemble houses sold through mail order by Sears Roebuck and Company. Over 70,000 of these were sold between 1908 and 1940. Shipped via railroad boxcars, these kits included all the materials needed to build an exceptionally sturdy and well designed house. Many were assembled by the new homeowner and friends, relatives, and neighbors, in a fashion similar to the traditional barn-raisings of farming families. Sears helped popularize the latest technology of the time. Central heating, indoor plumbing, and electricity were all new developments in house design that “Modern Homes” incorporated, although not all of the houses were designed with these conveniences. Central heating, for example, not only improved the livability of houses with little insulation but also improved fire safety.

Engineering ideas

  • insulation, reflection, heating

Do it
Here are some challenges for you to work on…