Urban space is at a premium, so houses are getting smaller. Yet there’s no need to compromise on style and functionality as students in Georgia have proved with their project.

The demand for housing in urban areas is at an all-time high. According to the United Nations, the number of city dwellers is set to double by 2050, so the strain on urban architecture is only going to get greater.

One of the most innovative ideas comes from Georgia: the SCADpad

In order to satisfy the need for housing, cities all over the world are having to get creative with their urban design. Designers in San Francisco, for example, are experimenting with the SmartSpace project and tiny 220-square-foot units, while micro-apartments in Tokyo occupy spaces that previously would have gone unused. There has also been a boom in space-saving furniture design, from toilets to fold-down beds. The driving idea: Small can be both stylish and comfortable.

Right now, one of the most innovative ideas comes out of Georgia, USA. Students at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) were concerned with the number of unused parking spots in urban space, a number set to rise as the trend to use public transport and car-sharing increases in popularity.

The students also recognized that parking garages are often built in central and convenient city locations – where people would usually struggle to find homes – so the idea of the SCADpad was born.

“How can you turn a parking garage into a living environment?”

The SCADpad is a micro-home designed to fit a standard parking space in a parking garage. Each home occupies a mere 135 square feet – and it remains mobile, so if a parking space needs to be used, it’s easy to move the structure to another one. The units are designed to be fully self-sufficient and feature a kitchen, a bathroom, and an adaptable living space.

“We were challenged to think about how we can better prepare ourselves for growing urban housing challenges facing the millennials in cities worldwide. From there, we explored, reflected, created, and experienced,” says SCAD student Jerome Elder who was part of the project from the beginning. “The collaboration was amazing – about 100 people sharing ideas and challenging perspectives and really developing this concept.”

One of the biggest challenges, apart from the obvious space constraints, was to give the space a community feel so people would want to live there. “Parking garages are brilliant structures, but how can you turn a parking garage into a living environment?” Jerome asks. “It’s not just about a house, but about building a community. A parking garage is a concrete and steel structure in most cases and can seem really cold so we had to find ways to make it a warmer space.”

Shared green area and a maker space: SCADpads have a lot to offer

The solution was to create a common green space for the SCADpads to share. This included an organic community garden and a shared recycling and composting area. There’s also a ‘maker space’ where residents can use a 3-D printer to create elements to customize their homes as well as a daylight harvesting structure on the roof to illuminate the lower floors with additional sunlight.

Jerome lived in a SCADpad for a week and says he didn’t want to leave when the time was up. “We’re all about communicating and sharing with each other and this gave us a chance to do it, not just using technology, but in person.” He says the residents all cooked together and even used herbs from their community garden. “We learned a lot and laughed a lot,” he says.

The students created three prototype units and future units of this stellar example of urban architecture can be constructed in up to two months at a cost of $40,000 each (€37,000).

For more information, check out the SCADpad website or follow the Savannah College of Art and Design on Facebook or Twitter!

All images, incl. the header image: SCADpad