Affordable Housing

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Flickr Faves on Fridays: A Mod Modular


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kitHAUS K1+K2, Santa Barbara

I couldn’t help but notice the new additions to our Fresh New Spaces Group from kitHAUS.

kitHAUS K1+K2, Santa Barbara

It made me want to know more about this project, like is it prefab? What green technologies were used? What is the rest of the context of the site? So I popped on over to their website, and recognized their smaller shed instantly, I know I’ve been in one a few times at different shows and exhibitions and such. This house is so much bigger – kitHAUS, we want to know more; you teased us by adding this to the flickr group, now come chat with us about how these modules are designed and how you put them together!


Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Family Shelter


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Our friend Vanessa de Vargas let us know about a great project she is involved in called Family Shelter and they need help. Here is her description of the project:

I just recently came on as Lead Interior Designer/Coordinator for this fantastic new 18 room shelter project called Upward Bound House in Culver City. I have organized 17 other Los Angeles based interior designers, who like myself are all putting in our time and effort to decorate our own room for the new shelter.

Each designer essentially adopts an apartment for a year that will help with temporary housing for 4 families.
The shelter will be opening its doors Feb 1st, so we are working around the clock to get the rooms designed in time for the new families.

We are in need of donations to furnish each of the rooms that include chairs, tables, shelving units, side tables, lighting etc. And are especially in need of new bathroom and bedding accessories.
Each designer has to come up with their own donations (we do not have a decorating budget) so I am asking you to please help us with a small donation.

All donations are tax deductible, just provide me with your address I can mail out a receipt for each donation.
Cash, checks, any products and gift cards ie Ross, Bed Bath and Beyond, Marshals, TJ Maxx, Home Goods etc. would be perfect stores that we can purchase from.

You can make the check or gift card out to:
Vanessa De Vargas
633 Palms Blvd. Unit A
Venice, CA 90291

Thank you for taking he time to read my note and hope that with the support from our friends, family and colleagues we can create a beautiful space for these families!

To read more about the project and to learn how you can get involved, read this article at California Home and Design and learn more about Upward Bound House, click here.


Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Rare Find


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I just found this link in my “drafts” folder from months ago. I had totally forgotten about this bizarre find at Jayson Home and Garden. Forget buying that shipping container pre-fab house or that hip vintage Airstream trailer for the backyard; apparently, a sheep shelter caravan is what it’s all about these days:

You may purchase the caravan here for $8295. Hey James, I think you need to step up your game and find Design Public some antique outhouses, igloos, arks, sweat tents or yurts made out of twigs!

I poke fun with love. I’m crazy about retail websites with rare finds. This framing model is one of the many unique objects in the Rare Finds section of Jayson Home and Garden, and it’s definitely on my wish list:

So is this Vintage Convent Photograph:

images from Jayson Home and Garden


Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Yestermorrow Design/Build School


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I first heard of Yestermorrow Design/Build School via Karrie Jacobs’ The Perfect $100,000 House.*  It sounded so great to me, then I forgot all about it until I saw it mentioned in Metropolis recently. I used to know how to draft but I’ve always sucked in woodshop and I sure don’t know how to build – it sounds like a great experience – a diverse group hanging out at summer design/build camp in Vermont. During the courses, students learn all about creating their own space, how to render it as an architect would, and partake in building projects at the same time. There are 1-3 day workshops, 1 week courses, and 2 week courses. If you’ve ever dreamed about architecture or building and didn’t know where to start, this is a great place to dip in a toe before you take the plunge.*

Here’s their philosophy:

Yestermorrow’s courses are specifically designed to demystify the designing and building processes using hands-on, experiential learning to teach students the art and wisdom of good design and the skill and savvy of enduring craftsmanship as a single, integrated process.

This creative process offers students unique insight into the oftentimes disparate worlds of the architect and the builder. Architects are routinely trained without any building experience that might inform their designs, and builders are trained to execute without a sense of the overarching purpose or design of the project.

Combining design and building offers numerous advantages and promotes the creation of intentional and inspired buildings and communities that enhance our world. From the professional design/builder to the do-it-yourself design/build homeowner, every designer should know how to build and every builder should know how to design. This philosophy sets Yestermorrow apart from other educational institutions.

Something about their vibe reminds me of Sambo’s Rural Studio, probably because most of their built works benefit communities.

* I really enjoyed Jacobs’ book when I read it, it was a quest for a place to call home set in that American On the Road kind of format, which is ironic, but it works. I found myself longing for a few things: 1) PHOTOGRAPHS of the places she visited. The few sketches in the book were charming, but an architecture critic, no matter how good her written descriptions are, should know that her readers are thirsty for images 2) For Jacobs to repeat her journey in 2008. Prefab architecture has become much more prevalent and costs have gone way down in the few years since she started her research. At the time she wrote the book, she was on the cutting edge of the current prefab movement. 3) For Jacobs to actually (SPOILER ALERT!)  find the perfect $100,000 house and freaking buy it/build it and live in it already! Maybe it was the Keroac-ian love of the road that kept her from putting down roots.

Another note: After reading about her Yestermorrow experience, I was pretty shocked that someone who was such a well known architecture critic (NYTimes, Dwell, H&G…she rocks) didn’t even know how to draft or how to begin designing a space. With so many precedents in her brain to find inspiration from, she really didn’t even know where to begin. I know that’s the norm, that art critics aren’t Picasso, or music critics Stevie Wonder, but it still surprised me. On the flip side, a lot of architects can’t write or critique worth a damn and they seem completely unaware of this as they wax unpoetically in a bunch of archi-speak mumbo-jumbo. Anyway, then it hit me that the architecture critic knows how to EXPERIENCE and APPRECIATE the space, and that is what counts. Just sharing my catharsis with you – sometimes I’m a little slow to understand these things!

all photos from


Friday, June 13th, 2008

Project Row House Update: Third Ward TX Available on DVD


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A few months ago, Andrew Garrison saw my post about Project Row House and sent me a copy of the documentary he directed called Third Ward TX. This is a project that is so genius and moving to me; I’ve been following its progress for years. If you’d like to catch up, you really need to screen this film. I’ve dreaded and thus procrastinated writing this review for months because I know that words can’t do it justice. The last time I was moved to tears by a project or an exhibit was Gee’s Bend Quilts. It doesn’t happen often to this old cynic!


In 1993, Rick Lowe founded Project Row House. He was struck by how much the dilapidated shotgun shacks in the city of Houston reminded him of John Biggers’ paintings. He calls the shotgun shack “a humble abode and a temple.” As Lowe and a group of artists renovated the homes, they created a community where artists-in-residence would come stay and exhibit. Thus, the artists engaged the community and brought attention to a place that had been abandoned by many. Once a neighborhood with a small town feel, the area had fallen on hard times.


The first major result of PRH was eight exhibition houses housing two different artist per year, with exhibitions and exhibitions in progress showing for six months a year. The doors are open for people to walk through. Exhibits range from portraits to this 2001 Walter Hood installation:


After reaching this success, Lowe realized it was only the tip of the iceberg in helping the community. Thus, The Young Mothers in Residency Program was born. Single mothers were able to live in housing that is part of the project, and they are aided by mentor moms. They live rent free for two years while completing educations. These families become part of a thriving community. The amount of dignity this effort brings to people seems too powerful to describe. Read the rest of this entry »