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The $20,000 House: Social Justice Architecture

Emily Herrick

$20,000 meaning the total cost of housing someone living on Social Security could afford to pay in monthly mortgage installments. Students of Rural Studio set out to create well- designed houses with reclaimed materials for people with low incomes. They have built 12 houses and are looking to create 8 more.

Help out with their 20K City Challenge.

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  • Armando Garma

    The Rural Studio has been doing amazing student work for 20 years in the poorest and most disenfranchised counties in Alabama. They have developed a program that is the envy of most architecture schools. Everyone should check out their website and see their work, and keep in mind this is all student work, which makes it even more stunning. From walls that use recycled and re-purposed tires, to a roof made of car windshields, this program has been on the cutting edge of sustainability and social justice, and problem based education which we discussed on GOOD earlier this month.

  • Emily Herrick

    I have been seeing a lot of Tiny Houses pop up in some shape or another all over the internet. It seems to be a good way to simplify lives, while meeting all your basic needs. What interested me the most about these houses are they are designed by students and designed with people with low-incomes in mind. This gives students real world practice in architecture and also cuts down the cost of the house dramatically because they are volunteer built with refurbished materials. The homeowner, the designer, and the builders all seem to be collaborating on this project for the right reasons.

    For this project, the houses are set up to be in rural areas, but this design thinking can (and should) be applied to other areas. Living in New York, I know all about making the use of small spaces. If more people started thinking about how people move around a certain space and then designed those spaces to be more efficient, the small home movement could really benefit a lot of people.

  • Hillary Newman

    I want one! I've been house hunting and haven't found anything right. Where do you envision people plopping these houses down? In the city? In more rural places?