Tiny House Jam: Regional High School Architecture Students Think Small

Creating designs for wee homes for Island clients.


Last summer, The Local published a story about Kathy Rose, her tiny house, and her quest for a place to put it. The story was so popular, and the response so robust, that soon an Island Coalition for Tiny Houses was formed, comprised of builders, representatives from various town zoning boards and boards of health, the Island Housing Trust, and other interested citizens. With the support of the ICTH, Kathy brought her tiny house to the Ag Fair, and Donaroma’s landscaped it to fit right in. Thousands of people toured the tiny house, and almost a thousand Islanders signed up asking for more information.

It seemed Vineyarders of all ages had ideas about how, why, and where they might create and live in a tiny house. So, we asked the architecture students at MVRHS if they might design tiny houses for an Island client of their choice. The ICTH figures these will raise awareness of the movement and help change perceptions about how small or tiny homes could be integrated into the housing fabric of our Island.

With the help of builder Michael Ferrone, the students were given design criteria to use in their projects — criteria that would make their projects more likely to one day be approved, and maybe, in the not-so-distant future, to help solve the Island’s housing shortage.

Members of the ITHC will look at these first-stage designs and offer feedback to the young designers. In a future issue of The Local, we will feature the next stage.

Here are the criteria the students had to design with:

  • Home can be UP TO 500 sq. ft of LIVING SPACE — the definition of livable square footage on the Island is a ceiling height of 6 feet, 6 inches.
  • Building height cannot exceed 26 feet.
  • A 4 x 4 x 4-foot space will be needed for the utilities (hot water heater, boiler, and electrical). This may be located outside the building, but must be part of the structure.
  • Site determines choice of foundation — cinderblock, slab, or footings (this does not determine the design at this point).
  • Floor joists will be 2 x 12 inches.
  • Floor thickness will be 1 inch.
  • Home will be moved at some point. Any plumbing or electrical will go in the wall or under the house, but should not exceed 12 inches under the floor.
  • 14-foot width may be used, but is not necessary. It is up to the discretion of the architect to determine the building width.