MyHomeYourHome/Elements of the Home

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The current objectives for these topics are located at MyHomeYourHome/House Objectives.


We are designing a system to take into consideration:

  • Food consumption
  • Waste Processing
  • Water
  • Passive heating and cooling
  • Energy Sources


A breakdown of the space in the home: what is it used for and how can it be optimized?


Inside and outside the home. Considerations include air quality and temperature.

Materials/ Structure

What is it made of, and how is it all put together?

Prototype/ Research Funding

What grants are we applying for next?

Land Use (planning and zoning)

All the legal issues we'll need to consider.

Target Market

Who will want to live in our home?


Why are we doing this and how are we approaching it?

Social Context

What mentality does the public have surrounding tiny homes, and what stigma do we need to avoid?

Emotional Cost/Benefit Analysis

What tradeoffs might the user have to make, if they are used to living like a consumer?

How will the home develop and grow?

Air Quality

  • ventilation, filtration etc.
  • what will it smell like?
  • can we have open windows and still maintain the passive solar heating and cooling?
  • how can we have high quality indoor air in the winter?

Consumption and Digestion

  • can food be produced on, or in, the house, how much?
    • Food in the roof idea. Use the attic as a greenhouse type space. Would the plants act as insulation?
    • What percentage of a person's diet would it be feasible to grow on the roof of a 65-392 square foot house? (numbers taken from Tumbleweed Houses)
  • can the user be encouraged to use CSAs and to consume locally? how can this be done? explore user interface options which clarify the connection between the user and the local community/ economy/ environment...?
    1. Perhaps by putting careful thought into what spaces are provided for food storage, the designer can influence the user's general choices of food. For example, a proportionally larger 'crispers' in a cooling unit to support larger volumes of fruit and veg.
    2. Support not taking near food storage. Magnetic fridge fronts are a wonderful invention when they are used for shopping lists.
  • how can waste be processed? should food and human waste be processed together or separately? what are the options? (eg, solar composting, vermiculture, mechanical systems...)
    • Sanitary?

Education of the user

  • to what extent is this to be an 'educational' house to live in?
  • Are there tradeoffs between ease of use and awareness?
    • For example building a waste system that is marketable and easy to use would hide the details of processing from the user, this is contrary to the goal of improving user awareness. Is this in fact a tradeoff, or am I just not looking at it in the right way?
    • Perhaps there is some way to design for both or for easy alternation between two 'user levels'.

Energy Sources

  • what energy sources can be used?
  • is it important to use multiple energy sources?
  • how can we keep costs of building and maintaining multiple energy sources low?
  • can these systems be intuitive/ transparent enough for the user to self-maintain them?

Energy Usage

  • how can we reduce consumption and increase awareness?
  • how can we organise electrical systems in the house? subsystems?

Internal temperature

Passive heating and cooling

  • What climate(s) is it targeted for? Passive heating and cooling suggests very tight integration with the environment.
  • is it possible for a home to use zero active power in the processes of heating and cooling?
  • can these systems be part of a larger "ecosystem" of processes within the environment of the house?
  • how can this new system be intuitive for the user?
  • should we attempt to keep user interaction with this system to a minimum, or should the user participate and thus learn?


  • should we target a specific climate or location? do we have a choice?
    • sounds like Vancouver is the place to be
  • what are the legalities involved in a mobile house?
    • sounds like it'll be immobile
  • Probably laneway oriented?


  • will it be mobile?
    It sounds like it will be stationary but conducive to easy relocation.

Target Audience

Questions to answer

  • Who is the target audience?
    • Will the user be expected to put time and effort into keeping the house running?
    • Will the user be expected to find the goal worthwhile and interesting and make personal sacrifices to keep the house running?
  • How much dedication or sacrifice is required on the part of the user? (how "motivated" is the user?)
  • Who will use the house? why?
    • The small footprint of the tiny house necessitates the use of multiple levels, which our current design proposal addresses using stairs and ladders. It therefore does not allow for differences of ability or someone carrying a child or load up the ladder. Future designs of the project could be customized to address these concerns.
  • Should the philosophy of the home be one of convenience or one of engagement? can we do both?

City Council's Use cases

From Vancouver City Council

"Q: Does laneway housing address affordability in the city?
A: Council has chosen an option that requires LWH to be family or rental, using the same mechanisms as for secondary suites in single family homes. Strata titling or ownership of the units is not an option. LWH speaks to the extremely tight rental market in Vancouver by offering an additional affordable choice." [1]

"Help with affordability by providing more rental housing and/or housing for family members or caregivers" [2]


  • Can we get some sketchups of the entire lot?

Technology integration

  • Situated cognition systems for control of automation(for example adjustments to optimize temperature throughout the day.
    • central computation unit/control not required
    • a set of interacting systems that happen to function well together
  • integration of traditional and modern technology to make it more accessible for the everyday user
  • potential use of "soft" materials ala BMW's concept car as pointed out in the Facebook thread.
    • there's a certain amount of consideration that should be given in this context to the sound factor, that is, cloth won't really prevent sound from travelling (not saying that gyprock necessarily does a great job of it anyway).
    • I discussed something like this with Rachel for a "collapsing" closet... essentially you have pockets sewn onto another piece of cloth that will roll up (like a blind)... just some thoughts anyway