This month, the Savannah College of Art and Design unveiled three test units, each built on a trailer chassis and designed by the school’s students, alumni and faculty. They’re installed in the school’s parking garage overlooking Atlanta’s congested freeways.
The idea is that younger adults will want to give up driving to live in city centers where they can walk to work and recreation.
“SCADpad created an environment for inventive and artful living,” said Paula Wallace, the school’s president.
The 135-square-foot units have a tiny kitchen, bathroom with shower and a bed that doubles as a sofa. The shower water is recycled to water plants and the plants are recycled into compost.
One of the student guinea pigs, photography major Carlos Maldonado of Mexico, said he’s looking forward to his week in the pod.
“I volunteered to live in a SCADpad because the faculty had created a lot of buzz about it,” he said.
One is Scott Boylston, a professor of sustainability design at the Savannah campus, who argues that in 10 years, people will be looking to convert parking garages to microhousing clusters.
“From a sustainability perspective, we need to change,” he said. “This project is about changing behavior and perceptions.”
While private industry has been making travel trailers and mobile homes for decades, the 75 students and faculty from a dozen academic disciplines wanted to try their own hand at coming up with innovative designs. They didn’t consult with Georgia Tech, which has a campus just on the other side of the expressway, where students have regularly competed in national contests to engineer and build sustainable housing.
SCAD designers even conceived and made the dishes used in the compact kitchens.
Since its founding 35 years ago, SCAD has made one of its missions converting old structures for new purposes. In Atlanta, it turned an old hotel into a dormitory, and it has rehabilitated more than 100 buildings in all of the cities where it has students.