Welcome to my temporary home! Let me show you around.
Check out the guest post I wrote for SCAD’s official blog, Thread!
An attempt to make a little stir-fry in a tiny kitchen.
A taste of tiny living in SCADpad
By Glennis Lofland
I volunteered to live in Savannah College of Art and Design’s experimental micro-house SCADpad because I wanted to test whether a 135 square-foot dwelling is truly liveable. I figured cooking was going to be my biggest challenge when I moved into SCADpad Europe this week: even when you have full-sized equipment (i.e. stove, oven), cooking in a small space is difficult. Where do you prep? Chop? Plate? Clean up? My mother is a fantastic cook. As a child, I was attached to her hip, which meant a lot of time with her in the kitchen. I learned to cook from her, absorbed it rather, over years of watching, mimicking and helping her prepare meal after meal.
But in a kitchen with only a sink, microwave, and a one-burner stovetop? Now that’s a challenge, especially if you’re going for something slightly healthier than mac ‘n cheese from a cardboard box.
My SCADpad kitchen is a single plane of countertop, 7 Women’s Size 7 Keds long by 2 Women’s Size 7 Keds deep. Half is taken up by the sink and single-burner stovetop. A large cutting board can squeeze in on the other half, next to the Keurig coffee maker and in front of the kitchen utensils. In other words, there’s not a lot of space. So how do you cook?
Three words: Keep. It. Simple.
I’m talking one pot simple: stir-fries, one pot pasta, lots of sautéing and steaming. For my first meal, I made stir-fry with lots of vegetables, some leftover roasted chicken I brought to SCADpad from home, and steamed rice. I call it SCADpad Stirfry.
While the space is tight, I can say that the SCADpad kitchen was designed for the user. Of course, everything is in reach. How could it not be? But in such a tight squeeze, burning yourself could be an issue. The SCADpad designers factored that in. The burner is “magnetic induction,” meaning the flat plane will only heat magnetized pots and pans. The “burner” will not burn you if you happen to graze your hand over it. You could place a stick of butter on the “hot burner” but it would not melt. The burner will only heat magnetized metal. All of the pots and pans in SCADpad have been specially made with magnetic coating to respond to the burner.
But if for some reason the cooking doesn’t work out, there is always the SCADpad iPad: use it to order delivery. Just be sure to give detailed directions to the parking deck.
I get this question from just about everyone — professors, friends, my family, the pizza delivery guy last night. I try to explain, but I usually get confused stares and then the typical follow-up: but why?
Let me explain. (If you would like the official SCAD version, click here.)
SCADpad began as a conversation: how can the arts change the world? How can a field so many find fluffy, highbrow and irrelevant contribute to larger global conversations in a world increasingly dominated by science, technology, engineering and math? (STEM, if you will.)
The world we live in is changing — rapidly and radically. In the past decade, people have been moving into cities at a rate that has not been seen since the Industrial Revolution of the Westernized world (that was the 18th-19th centuries, y’all). Global population is increasing, resources are decreasing, and climate change is a major issue. Basically, hold onto your hat because the 21st century is looking to be more than just a bumpy ride.
Unless we change.
In the past few decades, certain buzzwords and phrases have popped up and stuck: recycling, going green, sustainability. While many thought they would just be fads, they don’t seem to be going away. We could probably add to this list a phenomenon that’s been around since the early 2000’s: micro-housing. In a sort of subculture of sustainable engineering and architecture, engineers, architects and the like have been competing with each other to build ever-smaller units. Google “micro-housing” and you’ll find these units being touted as ways to provide affordable urban housing and even as a way to shelter the homeless. Seattle has received a lot of attention recently for its microunits, and an apartment complex in Brazil boasts 174-square-foot apartments. Still, not a lot of people would jump at living in a smaller space, let alone micro.
This is where SCADpad comes in. In standard SCAD fashion, they chose an already existing complex — the parking deck — and wanted to find a way to repurpose the building into something that is a little bit more relevant to what the 21st century is turning out to be. Where are people going to live in cities? How can we live greener? Can people actually live in these super small spaces?
From the beginning, the focus was the parking space, and students from nearly every department of SCAD, from interior design to sustainability design to fibers, worked to answer this one question: can we build something livable in 135-square feet?
Fast forward 1 year later, and we have SCADpad and an answer to the original question, a resounding YES. And by having students live in the spaces, SCAD will provide even more feedback to the micro-housing discussion: yeah, it’s cool to build these things, but are they actually liveable?
I’ll let you know.
SCADpad Day 1! A fantastic day of exploring the spaces, attempting to cook, playing with the iPad that controls my lights and windows (and can apparently order food as my SCADpad-mate Rachel just informed me? Clearly I need to play more), and generally getting settled into SCADpad. I have so many things I want to talk about — many, many posts worth of things to document and discuss!
But first, we need to talk about last night.
I was worried that the noise of traffic would keep me awake all night being this close to the highway:
That is the view from my “front porch” (see Instagram feed on the right). Yeah, that’s the Downtown Connector. There is also an Amtrak Station just across the highway.
Surprisingly, it is not the noise that is abrasive about being so close to the highway. No, the sounds of the constant streams of cars is sort of soothing, a relaxing hum of traffic murmuring in the background. During the day, it creates almost a kind of sound cocoon that makes you feel like you’re removed from the city, though right on top of it at the same time — looking out over, into and on top of it. Even the train isn’t that bad when the driver blares his horn way too many times than necessary as it pulls into the station. No, it is not the noise. It’s the shaking.
Whenever a big truck enters the on-ramp that wraps around SCAD’s main campus right below my SCADpad, whenever a train rumbles into the Amtrak station just down the road, perhaps even whenever there is a big wind, my SCADpad shakes. I did not notice this until I had finally put away the iPad that controls my lights and windows (more on that later), climbed into my lofted, “hammock” bed, and was drifting off with that same heady feeling of falling asleep on Christmas night when you’re four years old and exhausted but exhilarated from all the day’s excitement. (Am I really in SCADpad? I’m really in SCADpad!)
And then my SCADpad shook me out of that state. I mean that in the most literal sense. The actual pod shook me awake. The actual pod was slightly shaking. From my lofted, hammock bed, it definitely felt like the earth was rumbling. This happened three or four times before I realized that it was not an earthquake, tornado, or unnaturally powerful wind, but my SCADpad shook slightly whenever a truck or a train went by. I asked my fellow SCADpad residents whether their pads shook last night, and they said no. I’m the only one with a lofted bed, so I think it has something to do with that, and the fact I’m in a parking deck.
Question: What do you bring when you move into a box?
Answer: Not much.
Today, two SCAD students and I moved into our very own 135-square-foot units in the three-unit “SCADpad village” in the parking deck of SCAD Atlanta. Packing to move in was not all that difficult — just throw together a few days worth of clothing and food (in separate bags, of course). Figuring out where to put everything once I moved in?
Actually not that difficult!
I was blown away by 1. the beauty of my Europe-themed SCADpad, 2. all of the fun community spaces in the SCADpad area of the parking deck (more on that later), and 3. ALL OF THE STORAGE SPACE.
I’m a sucker for storage. When I moved to Atlanta, I chose an apartment solely based on the number of closets it had. Not exactly conducive to the “tiny life.” When I signed up for SCADpad, I welcomed the challenge of the “micro” life and realized that I needed to pack carefully.
But then I moved in.
Do you see those? Those are drawers. Making up the my steps to my bed. And cubby holes. Next to and below my desk. And there are more drawers on the left. And I haven’t even gotten to the kitchen.
The designers already took care of figuring out how to store the kitchen supplies: dishes, cups, flatware, cooking utensils, cutting boards. Beyond the countertop, there’s not a lot of extra storage space in the kitchen, but I’m obsessed with the refrigerator. My pre-move in packet said each pod would have a mini-fridge. I assumed the normal college dorm kind.
Do you see that? The minifridge is a DRAWER. (Also, that’s my kitchen. The other doors to the left hide my microwave, paper towels and miscellaneous cleaning supplies.)
As I said, I’m obsessed with storage. And my SCADpad has lots of it.
More to come!
On May 5, I will be moving into a pod. One of a handful of SCAD students selected to test out SCAD’s microhousing project known as SCADpad, I will be living in one of three micro-units on SCAD Atlanta’s parking deck for about five days. The units were designed by SCAD students, have everything needed to live – kitchen, bathroom, bed – and are in the footprint of a parking space. They measure roughly 135 square feet. It’s a micro-unit. A box. A pod. A SCADpad.
Call it what you will, it’s going to be small.
I will be writing all about my experience here, so be sure to check back on May 5!
For more about SCADpad, check out their website here: SCADpad.com. Definitely watch the videos.