Design / Architecture Project

Yann Arthus-Bertrand: A wide-angle view of fragile Earth
Look at our worldly possessionsLook at our worldly possessions
6 Tiny Living Principles Everyone Should Try
The Tiny Home Moveme
Less is more - the Tiny Home Movement
Why You'll be happier in a small home
8 Good Reasons to Choose a Smaller Home
The psychology of the tiny home movement
8 Reasons to Downsize your life

Explore sustainable design and building practices by designing and building a scale model of a small home or tiny home.

Teams: 1 to 2 member teams
Time: 2 weeks - from design to model completion

Design / Draft a passive solar home that is 1000 to 500 square feet or under.
Click here for some links to start with or do your own research

Step 1: Homework (Each person does this individually)
example floor planSM.jpg
  • Go home and count EVERY single thing in your house. (At least try for 10 minutes). Then, on your own wikipage, -with a title at the top -write a 7 to 15 sentence summary of this experience, your thoughts, ah-ha moments/ideas, frustrations, etc. Please include a 'list' of the top 5 items that you think are absolute necessities and 5 items that you just don't need. Conclude your writing with a sentence or two of why you think this assignment was given at the beginning of a unit dealing with designing a home.

Step 2: Essential Questions. (25 pts) (Each person does this individually)
  • Start a new section at the top of your page (all students)
  • Start creating a list of essential 'questions' that will help guide you through this project. It's intended that when new questions come up, you will add them to this list.
  • Please put items in a bulleted or numbered list for easy reading
    • Example: "How is a passive solar home different than a 'normal' home?"

Step 3: Project Research (Each person does this individually)
Below your list of essential questions, do a search and find some 'facts' about the American home industry. Some things like, "What's the average size home now." "What was the average size home in 1940? 1960?" See more ideas for facts here. Aim for at least 3 to 147 facts
  • Please put items in a bulleted or numbered list for easy reading

Step 4: Example Floor Plans (30 pts) (Each person does this individually)
Look at all the following floor plans below that have passive solar principles. In your composition book, quickly sketch the floor plan of any 2 of these plans, labeling all rooms and their dimensions, if they have them. Be neat, but quick. Put the title, "Example Plan" in large letters at the top each page. Study the plan carefully. In 2 to 5 sentences, written right next to your sketches in your composition book, summarize any observations you have about how 'space' is organized and used in an efficient way. (15 pts per sketch / 1 period)

Goal? To study/observe how architects use space. These homes are super efficient with their use of space. Notice the dimensions of the rooms. Observe the lack of walls and hallways. See where bathrooms are placed and where washer and dryers are located. Note the number of and the placement of closets.


800 sq ftArchitect: Nir PearlsonRiver Road Project
80 sq meters
Nest Architects
Click here for more info

635 sq ftArchitect:Ross Chapin
877 sq ft


848 sq ftFabcab in Seattle
860 sq ft

450 sq ft
Greenpod Architects



840 sq ft
Architect: Cathy Schwabe

1027 sq ft
Arkin Tilt Architects

Step 5: Practice Sketch Showing 'Flow' (Each person does this individually)
  • 8B1JordeynM-1718.jpg
    Example: 8B1 Jordeyn M 17-18
    For each of the two floor plans you sketch above, draw in 'flow' lines (different color, if you can) for the following movements: (Click here for an example) So....when you're done, you should have 5 separate lines on each of the two floor plan sketches.
    • Going from the kitchen to the living room
    • Going from the main bedroom to the bathroom
    • Going from the kitchen to where laundry is done
    • Going a 'closet' where a vacuum cleaner would be kept
      to vacuum the living room
    • Coming in from the outside, putting away your coat and boots into a closet and going into the kitchen to make some mac and cheese

Step 6: What is a passive solar architecture?
Discussion: Passive House Described

Step 7: Floor Plan Design Basics and Guidelines (Each person does this individually)
Look over the following 'tips' for design before sketching your own design

Step 8: Time to pick your team!
When your sketches are done, you split into teams of two of your choosing. It's important that you pick someone that you can easily communicate and negotiate with. Sit at a table of your choosing. There will be only 1 team of three when the class has an odd number of students. No student will be allowed to work by themselves. Review team skills

Step 9: Design Your Own - Sketch and Flow (Each person does this individually)
Then, each person should create their own, unique floor plan for a passive solar 400 to 1000 sq ft home. Include dimensions of each room. Show teacher. (15 pts for this rough draft)
Discuss your initial sketch with the teacher to get some feedback.(15 pts) Don't forget to include a 'flow' diagram like the one you did above. Some things to consider: pantry, closets, all rooms with water adjacent to each other, where will windows be placed, how many doors to outside....

Re-do your initial sketch and again show the teacher. Make sure room labels and general room dimensions are included (15 pts)

Have teacher scan the sketch from your composition book. DON'T WAIT though....go right on to the next step. When he's done - he'll tell you and you may upload the picture to your wikipage from: bupublic/@thonnings/@collaboration/architecture sketches and files

When the scan of your sketch is uploaded, caption it, "Initial Sketch"

Step 10: Floorplanner (100 pts)(Each person does this individually)
From your sketch, you'll now create a 3D version using a website called Floorplanner. Make sure you've gotten the 'OK,' then log onto FloorPlanner using the username/password your teacher gives you and create your floorplan.

Step 11: Building the Scale Model (100 pts)
Click here for directions

Step 12: Presentation
  • Start with your goal and how/why it aligns with the goal of the project
  • Include: key essential questions, example site of where you got background information, show depth of your body of knowledge, show sketches and drafting file and scale model prototype.
  • This presentation is a simulation. Pretend you are trying to 'sell' your idea/design to another company, group, etc. (Like Shark Tank)
  • All group members should participate equally
  • Please don't read off the webpage - read from the heart/soul