There’s still time to view ‘tiny house’


A Northwestern student-designed sustainable home, barely large enough to house a couple, has been on display on Sheridan Road all week, but will be moving to its more permanent location at Foster Street and Maple Avenue after public viewing ends Saturday.

Viewing hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and noon to 3 p.m. Saturday. It is located outside the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center at 2133 Sheridan Road, Students are on hand to answer questions.

Inspired by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, which builds one-person homes on a commercial basis, the six-student engineering design class at Northwestern put their collective heads together to construct a small home that was “completely off the grid,” according to William Fan, one of the class members. That is, it has no external source of energy or water.

The class designed the house as a project for the campus-based Engineers for a Sustainable World. It includes solar panels to provide all the electrical power needed to accommodate everyday living, including cooking, heating, and refrigeration. It also collects its own rainwater for various uses, including a lavatory.

Largely paid for by contributions from individuals and corporations, the student-built home cost the students about $38,000 to build, not including their own student labor.  Fan estimates that on a commercial basis, the home would run about $90,000. The main level area is about 128 square feet, while a sleeping loft adds another 80 square feet to the livable area.

The Engineers for a Sustainable World website describes the tiny house project as “an ongoing student collaboration to bring sustainability awareness to the Northwestern community and beyond. What had started as an ambitious class project has now become a passionate mission to inspire future endeavors towards improving sustainable living.”

It describes the Tiny House Movement as “a response to the growing desire of smaller and simpler living spaces for those who feel concerned about the environment and the negative impact of excessive resource consumption.”

Top: Engineering design student William Fan stands at the entrance to the "Tiny House" on display through Saturday at Northwestern.


Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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