Friday, August 18, 2006

H.E.L.P. Arrives in tiny Packages

Lately, I have noticed a big emphasis on small. Web sites, like Apartment Therapy, and design programs, such as Small Space, Big Style, try to show that one doesn't need a lot of space to design or, more importantly, to live.

H.E.L.P House
Last night, I caught a bit of Small Space, Big Style and have been thinking about what I saw all throughout today. Inspired by the instant homeless epidemic caused by Hurricane Katrina, two Maryland-based architects designed a portable house that they hope, one day, will be used by the government to house displaced citizens after disasters. Carib Martin and Rob Bragan built their prototype, H.E.L.P House (Housing Every Last Person), in Martin's driveway for $8,000. The interior is full of fogged plastic and trendy light wood. It can sleep 6 people, includes an outdoor seating area, and the total square footage measures out to less than 100 square feet!

Kitchen, H.E.L.P House
Although the prototype is still sitting in Martin's driveway, it's designed to ship anywhere. The entire porch can be dismantled and stored inside. The house is meant to rest temporarily on the property owner's land while the home owner rebuilds. Since disasters often render necessities such as electricity and plumbing impossible, Martin and Bragan have also installed solar panels and something they called a "composting toilet."

Speaking of toilets, I couldn't find a photo to illustrate this, but the entire bathroom is smaller than the typical shower stall. Just close your eyes and think of your feet resting on the shower floor while you sit on the potty and you got it.

Living area, H.E.L.P House
It's a complete stretch of my imagination to picture myself in a space this small. I have a hard time even picturing myself in a NYC apartment! But this concept, when paired with the idea of losing everything, makes me pause for a moment and think of the people who would feel lucky to call this tiny box home.
photo credit: NPR

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