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Collaborations: Tiny House

Mar 15, 2021   |   by Kathryn Lapierre   |   Dartmouth Engineer

Tiny house interior rendering

Image courtesy Soon-Young Shimizu Th’21 and Andrew Moura Th’21.

The original plan was to have a group of faculty and students design and build a tiny house at the Dartmouth Organic Farm, where it would serve as a learning and living space. But when budgets, permit issues, and COVID-19 postponed construction, the team switched gears.

Instead, the tiny house will provide research space for Dartmouth ecologists in the Second College Grant. A local builder created the shell on a trailer, then stored it in a warehouse.

Enter Professor Vicki May, who incorporated the project into the ENGS 89/90 capstone engineering design courses. A team of students got to work. “The interior design was heavily influenced by ecology researchers who will be using the space: no running water, a freezer for soil and samples, storage space, and plenty of outlets for laptops and microscopes,” says team leader Emma Doherty ’21.

Through the fall the team designed the interior, envelope, and electrical, heating, and energy systems. “It would have been a lot easier to be able to meet in person and begin certain parts of construction,” she says, “but everyone has been great about sharing and completing work—and having fun while doing so.”

Students plan to complete construction during winter term—then enjoy the space. “The building will have multiple monitors, such as temperature, humidity, electricity use,” says Doherty. “It will be a living lab, where students can experiment with the building itself.”

Six engineering professors have also expressed interest in incorporating the tiny house into their curriculums.

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