ProtoHouse is a space for curated, changing display of innovative urban dwellings. The installation space will host a series of either complete micro-units fitting within the 12'x12'x12' space, or sections of larger units; in either case, with partial cutaway or transparent sides to allow viewing of and/or access to the interiors.
The installation aims to dramatically foreground, and invite participatory rethinking about, one of the city's (and neighborhood's) most crucial issues: how might we create and design new housing, particularly housing that is affordable, adaptable, and sustainable?
Challenging expectations about what is put in public vs private spaces, ProtoHouse will invite passers-by to see housing through a new lens. We hope to spur new public imagination and discussion of how private spaces can be designed and used to support smarter, more ecological and vibrant living.
We propose a roster of innovative urban housing ideas from around the world, with one to be installed during the 3-day Prototyping Festival. In the (hypothetical) longer-term/permanent version, the community would select a new dwelling unit/display for exhibition every few months. Therefore it would embrace prototyping/exploration as an ongoing state -- for an ever-changing city.
Broadly, we seek to bring housing back into the urban prototyping conversation -- recognizing that good urbanism includes good dwellings. Housing, like public space, needs to evolve and be reinvented; and prototyping can help. In fact, public prototyping may be particularly crucial for broad envisioning, experiencing, and dissemination of new approaches, since housing design is often a particularly conservative and convention-bound field.
Some potential exhibition units:
prefab housing: project led by YMCA London SW, with Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners architects.
- microunit apartment (or portion of) from Panoramic Interests
, developer of micro-unit buildings in Berkeley, San Francisco, etc.
- tiny house from TechDwell
, provider of units to Portland, Oregon's planned homeless-rehousing village.
- tiny house from Four Lights Tiny House Company
, based in Sonoma County, which is currently developing a high-density tiny-house urban village in the North Bay.
Related prior project "Maker House 1" installation at Open Cities Arts Cities Festival, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, October 4 2014.
Andy Redfearn - Director of Housing, YMCA SW London, and head of the Y:cube project.
Jennifer Loving - Executive Director, Destination: Home (main homeless-services provider for Santa Clara County).
Chris Block - CEO American Leadership Foundation, Silicon Valley Chapter; longtime affordable-housing developer & homeless advocate. We are working together on a project
Mark Roth - The Learning Shelter
We discussed this project at the Open Cities 2025 conference.
Martha Bridegam - housing attorney & advocate.
If you like this idea, "me too" it to stay updated on it's progress. Feel free to share your insights in the "How can you help?" section. If you'd like to get involved with this project, let us know. You can fill out a volunteer form
to help with the overall festival.