In the fall of 2016, I presented a challenge to a group of students at the University of New England, where I am the artist in residence, to design a tiny house that would not only float, but could be trailered or parked anywhere. A collaborative team of students met weekly. They brainstormed ideas and made contributions based on interest, skills and abilities. This multidisciplinary project required input from about as wide a range of departments as one could imagine: Marine Science, Ocean Studies, Aquaculture and Aquarium Science, Environmental Sciences, Business & Entrepreneurship, Math, Physics, Boat Building, Creative Writing, Communications, Education and of course, Art & Design.
Collectively, we conceived of an Amphibious Tiny House with a footprint of 8' x 16' that is totally off the grid, complete with solar panels, battery storage, a composting toilet, rain collection and filtration system, a sun shower, aquaponics and a see through bottom panel. Considering the limited volume, every square inch must utilize space efficiently, be multi-functional and of course, be well designed and aestheticly pleasing. Other guiding and limiting factors to consider have been building codes, harbor restrictions, vehicle size restrictions, DMV requirements (like lights and blinkers), the availability, sustainability and cost of our building materials.
For the spring and summer semester UNE provided us with a fabulous shop space on Forest Ave in Portland, Maine. With the generous support of the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation, we began building the pontoons with a budget of $15,000 to purchase materials. To date, the pontoons are complete. Now, the UNE students and I will build the tiny house atop during the fall semester.
Eventually, all of our R&D will be fully documented with our open source information available here on this website. In other words, anyone will be able to use our designs, supply list and instructions, for free. The project will be low budget, affordable and mass producible.
Anyone is welcome to get involved: UNE students, staff, faculty, friends, family and community volunteers. If you have time, interest, curiosity, contact me.