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Summer Design Program Crafts Its Own Mobile Dwelling

By Dwell @dwell
+Farm's 2015 summer mobile home's wooden exterior

+Farm is based in upstate New York, where land can be cheap but new housing prohibitively expensive: when a resident breaks ground on a waterfront site, their taxes can dramatically increase. What if new housing didn't need to technically break ground? "Our thought," says +Farm Director William Haskas, was "let's discuss ideas for a new type of dwelling....one that could potential help the people that actually live in the area."

+FARM's prupose is simple in theory, complex in excution: use a short summer project to immserse students and young professionals in the design and construction process. Since 2011, the program—currently an educational institute, soon to be a non-profit—has built a number of small shelters and installations across upstate New York. +FARM explores what its director William Haskas calls "poly-authorship:" ensuring its students, some of whom don't have a design background, contribute to every step of a project's realization from concept to fabrication.

Haskas, also a Part-Time Lecturer at Parsons the New School for Design, selected a unique focus for +Farm's Summer 2015 studio: mobile housing. When participating in a roundtable discussion with residents of Buffalo, NY, +FARM learned that tax laws don't favor new housing constructions on waterfront sites: once a resident broke ground, taxes could spike from $250 up to $15,000. The Summer 2015 Nomad Studio sought, in the Haskas' words, a new and "intelligently inhabitable environment for living." The result was dubbed "Touching Me Softly" for its soft interior; its 8ft by 5ft dimensions contains a small room that sleeps two and easily converts to a hangout space. Deployable solar panels can generate 1,000 watts and help residents cook, brew coffee, and project films (via a compact digital projector). Appropriately enough for a mobile dwelling, pits stops are streamlined thanks to a stowable chemical-free composting toilet.

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