Blog 5: Housing Solutions

One of the most important aspects of design is to create something that is able to make a contribution to humanity. In the book “Toward Self Sufficiency” I tried to do this in the section about the housing design within the Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP). Housing design relates to designing housing that also has a social component. For designs to be feasible they must also be as sustainable as possible way into the future. If we aren’t environmentally conscious, for example, having a much simpler lifestyle, then man’s destiny will be much shorter in time. Added to this will be the ability of people to change their ability to increase housing space without having to add an additional space without moving. Our future will not be “keeping up with the Jone’s” but just having the ability to live in an area that is polluted.

I hope the following housing designs will meet these criteria as we move into a transition period that will make us have to adapt to a much simpler lifestyle. The houses themselves become more viable when placed in a complete community where most needs are provided in that community. Growth will have to have a different application in the future than what it has now. The following designs are just a start in what is a vision for the future. Please offer your ideas to help make it so.

Housing and Land Use – Option 2

The following uses are for option 2. (Possible location in impoverished area.)

D—Duplex (eight buildings—sixteen units)
The duplex units can be selected from a number of available designs. The duplex units are designed so they can be converted into single-family units if the family wants to expand. Uses other than housing would not be allowed within the duplexes. Two parking spaces minimum (in US) would be on each property, or what is allowed by a zoning ordinance. Some of the duplex units will be allocated for guests to be used for overnight stays. The duplex lots are larger lots than those designed for the triplex units and will be able to contain more guests per unit. Consequently, they can be purchased as a duplex, and both units would be under one or two ownerships. If under one ownership, one of the units would be for the owner, and the other one could be rented out, used for overnight guests, or used by a family member. The owner could at a later date convert the duplex into a single-family unit. Another option would be for the owner to sell one or both units. There will be several duplex designs offered where they can be used on one or two lots.

The three units are A, B and C. Unit A can be enlarged or made smaller depending on market demand. Units B and C are combined from a triplex just by removing part of a wall and a kitchen. The kitchen is designed to be easily removed by using special attachments. Windows can be added or deleted.

The area in pink could be an extra bedroom to allow a family of three or four to live in this unit. The unit can range in size from 800 to 1,000 square feet. The combined B and C units range from 980 to 1,000 square feet.

There could be a carport or garage over the parking if allowed by zoning.

Designs and concepts by George Hunt.

This design is an example of a duplex that could be used in the larger duplex lots. It could be used for student housing, the homeless, nursing homes, hotel, mixed uses and other uses as needed. The manager’s apartment could have from one to three bedrooms. The manager could also own the build and rent out the rooms.

T1 – Triplex (thirty-two buildings—ninety-six units maximum)
These triplex units will be designed for housing uses and overnight guest accommodations or a combination of the two. However, none of the units can be used for other uses, and they all have to be for residential use or guests. If one of the owners in the triplex wants to use one of the units for their office for professional use, this can be done by applying for a special permit from the homeowners association (or nonprofit). The size of the units in the triplex can be changed from what is shown, and this can provide more uses and design options. These units would also be easily converted into a duplex or single-family use. The purpose of the project and its location would determine the initial land use, and it can be used for medium to upscale living or for the homeless, elderly, veterans, and so on. A combination of tenants would be optional. Also part of the project would be for profit and nonprofit uses.

This is the original triplex design. It could be changed to a duplex or single family use by moving one of the kitchens (blue) and moving part of a wall (red). The kitchens can be reused.

The A unit could be used for other uses – Triplex 2

T2 – Triplex Variations (eight buildings—twenty-four units maximum)
These triplex units can have one unit per triplex for other uses.

In the conversion of one of the units for other uses, the bathroom will remain in place so that the unit could be converted back to residential use. These units are located adjacent to an interior drive and parking, so other uses would be applicable in these triplexes. There are many different arrangements for the other uses that could be applicable. Again, the goals and objectives of the project would determine these uses. The community members would review monthly the existing uses allowed in the PDP so that all uses comply with the special permit or community regulations. This aspect of governance will be determined during the planning stages.

T3 – Triplex (sixteen buildings—housing optional)
All units will have uses other than housing. If there isn’t a market for these uses, some of the units can be used for housing or overnight guests. These units are located adjacent to retail units. An owner could live in one unit in a triplex and have the other units for retail purposes. Two units could be for a swimming pool and recreation area if one is not located in the community building.

SH – Student and Medical Housing (four buildings—twenty-four to forty students—housing design 1)
Student housing is for students from areas outside of the community. Students living within the community in triplex and duplex units would also be eligible for any of the training and classes. Special training classes can also be held in the managers’ unit within the student housing building. These classes could be in subjects other than agriculture and construction, with special courses in business management, social marketing, and computer use. The courses that could be offered are endless but should be according to what is relative to the community and applicable for future needs of the students. Special workshops could also be available for overnight guests. The project would appeal to clubs and small organizations because of the types of facilities there. The research at the ITG would be filmed and used for courses and collaboration with universities. After a number of years, online courses could be offered worldwide. There would also be published literature about the research, with its adaption for organic gardening worldwide. Medical housing would be for people needing treatments for depression and anxiety.

Homeless (four buildings—twenty-four persons—housing design 1)
Since the building selected is for several different uses, it can be adapted to fit existing market needs. The homeless could be selected for inclusion in the training programs, with homeless veterans having the highest priority. Some of the homeless could work in landscaping, construction, or trades where they have experience. They could also work on-site to pay for training fees. This would be a working program and not just a shelter so that they then would have a trade and be able to find work anywhere. If applicable, people who are mentally ill would be in one building under specialized care, and in certain instances, special resources would be utilized to help drug addicts until their problems are evaluated by specialists.

SH-E – Student Housing or Elderly (four buildings—twenty-four persons—housing design 1)
The elderly could include persons that need housing and may include people living in the general area of the project. They could come from dilapidated homes or have other types of needs. Students in hospitality training would be able to obtain working knowledge in food preparation, nutrition, management, housekeeping, and so on for the elderly. This could be part of the instruction program. The housing units for the elderly would also entail student teaching in care and management. It would also expand their knowledge on building and managing other units of this type and the elderly units could also use students to care for them as part of a teaching program. This could be a part of a curriculum program so that students understand the needs of the elderly and in turn allow the elderly to participate in some of the classes being offered. This will strengthen the sharing program and allow people to feel good about themselves.
R – Retail Uses
The retail use in this location would be similar to a convenience store but would be operated by the homeowners association in order to have lower prices for community members. Each community member would have a membership card and be eligible for discounts from various stores in the community. Bartering and collaborative programs would also be available. Arrangements would be made with big-box stores for special goods at discounts. The discount stores then be able to use the sales of goods process as a charity donation, and there would be at least one consignment store for bartering of goods within the community. This store could be privately owned or operated by the community nonprofit.

R2 – Mixed Auto Uses
This location would be for a small auto mechanic repair facility, with space for hand-washing cars and an optional gasoline pump. It is the only place to wash cars in the project (environmental controls). Very few cars will be needed because bicycle use and community rental cars would be emphasized. This could also be used for training purposes in basic auto repair.

B – Community Branch Bank and Government Offices
The community bank would handle special bartering programs, the community credit union, and special community loans. Community money programs would be started also. The branch bank would be affiliated with a conventional bank and handle regular banking activities. The government offices would be for people to get help without having to leave the community. Government offices could also be located in triplexes if more are needed in the community. See option 1 for additional uses for the bank.

M – Medical Clinic
The functions offered by the medical clinic would have to be determined by the needs of the community and general area. Special nurses would be available for the elderly, homeless, and people with special needs. A special program of study will emphasize ways of encouraging preventive medicine through sustainable practices. Classes will show how all the activities in the community are sustainable and be a pathway for better health. This begins with understanding the soil web and regenerative practices. Again, see option 1 to include other uses.

IT – IT and Innovative Study Center
This study center is a component of the overall training program. It will also be used for agricultural and other research. Special classes will be held to develop innovative thinking in agriculture, construction, social studies, and marketing. Prizes will be awarded for innovative ideas that could be used within the community. It will be in a separate building devoted to this use. It could be in one of the triplex units until the community is fully developed. See option 1 for additional information.

A-R – Administration Facilities and Library
Administrative offices will be located on this site. It will also include offices for the homeowners association if applicable. A research library will provide opportunities for specialized studies and popular publications. The library will be available for anyone living in the community or those who are in training, and people will be taught how to use the internet to get information on selected subjects. The library will be designed after community members have given input regarding what they need.

P – Parking
Parking will be available for visitors to the flea market or farmers market as well as other community activities. Parking will also be available for student housing. Each triplex or duplex will also have its own parking spaces, and parking in the street is optional. The paving in each of the four major parking areas will be different to determine the value and sustainability of each type. Community car rentals will operate from the parking areas and be a sharing program under the jurisdiction of the community nonprofit. Some of the community cars will be donations from the public and will not be new.

TCA – Training Center – Agriculture
This is a training center for regenerative farming and organic agriculture. It will be open to anyone, but community members will have the highest priority. A separate report could be available to show fees and educational programs that are available. There will also be a small kitchen and dining area in each of the training buildings, and these rooms could also be used for meetings and other gathering purposes. Videos will be taken of all training sessions to be used internally and for YouTube productions. Local chefs will be invited to participate in classes to work with students so that they can learn about marketing and nutrition.

C – Workshops – Meeting /Entertaining Building
This building will have a separate kitchen, administrative office, and restrooms. It will be used for workshops, meetings, and other uses. It will be available for anyone in the area. A separate staff will be hired to coordinate activities. See option 1 for additional uses.

GH – Greenhouses (four total)

There will be four greenhouses in the project, and they will be used for training, research, and production. The types and sizes will be determined, but one of the greenhouses will be used for demonstrating new agricultural practices, with a small section to demonstrate vertical farming techniques. Another will be used for aquaculture and sustainable practices, such as practiced on Neversink Farm in the Catskills ( The others will be used for agricultural research and propagation. They will produce vegetables, fruit, herbs, medicinal plants, ornamentals, cover crops, and so on. The farmers market on-site will be one of the ways available for marketing, as well as establishing a subscribers’ program. Stores, restaurants, and other retail outlets will also be used for marketing, and the agricultural area will be totally organic, along with demonstrations of developing regenerative soils. Another purpose could be to show how these organic techniques can produce healthier foods with higher food densities. Nutrition tests could be a research component. If this is part of the program, some of these tests will be done on-site, and some will be sent off to professional labs. See option 1 for other ideas.

SM – Storage and Maintenance Buildings (four total)
The storage and maintenance buildings will be used for agriculture, construction, and maintenance equipment. Other storage and maintenance buildings may be constructed on individual duplex and triplex lots.

FM – Farmers Market or Flea Market (two total)
Both of these will be in the areas shown. The flea market may also be used for community garage sales, bartering, consignment purposes, and other community functions. Produce grown on-site and in other organic farms could be included in the farmers market. Both areas could be used when there are special occasions. During certain days of the week, the farmers market will have special training sessions for the public in permaculture, organic gardening, and research. There are information forums and websites that provide help for firms wanting to start a farmers market.

RF – Regenerative Farming Production and Research
Special reports are available by George R. Hunt Associates / Natural Regenerative Technologies to show the intent and purposes of using regenerative farming and landscape methods for food production and developing better soil structures. This will also be used for training, research, and production, and the area allocated for this is approximately two acres. This could be a demonstration area to show how bio-stimulants, soil amendments, and other organic products can be used to increase growth and production in plants (agriculture and landscape). It may also show beneficial insects, cover crops, and special soil amendments used to improve the soils to create a balance of fungi, microorganisms, and macroorganisms.

AG – Agriculture Research and Production
This would be a demonstration area for agricultural research and production using many organic methods. Conventional synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified plants will not be used. It will show how organic and other products can be used to increase production using natural systems. The IT center will provide access to universities, community colleges, and other experts. A special project will be initiated to help create gardens on school sites. Rain gardens, rainwater storage facilities, and a small demonstration area using plants to clean wastes may also be on the site. Field trips will also be included in the training programs. See option 1 for additional information.

CB – Community and Recreation Building
A community building and swimming pool will be located in this area, or it can be assigned another use if needed. The building will also be used for community meetings. The size of the area is 150 by 200 feet. Only community residents, students, and members can use this facility. It can also be reserved for special functions.

CP – Overnight Guest Recreation Facilities or Community Park
This will be a small playground and recreation area. It could include a small recreation building, spa, and swimming pool to be used by the guests staying overnight. All the activities would be a fantastic market generator for bringing guests/visitors to the project.

The brown strips on the plan represent eight-foot-wide walks. There will be benches, lighting, and fitness areas adjacent to some of them.

Other Uses – Triplexes
The following other uses can be used in the T2 and T3 triplex sites. Fifty-four units are available.

  • barber or beauty shop
  • guest units—rental
  • daycare
  • consignment store
  • bartering
  • approved retail uses
  • offices and professional use
  • landscape maintenance
  • artists and crafts
  • dry cleaning (sales only)
  • specialized training centers
  • rental services
  • collaborative enterprises
  • other uses by special permit from the homeowners association
  • fitness center

Other Uses on Selected Triplex Lots
Two or three of the triplex lots will be left vacant to be used for other purposes if needed. One example is shown on page 8 in the appendix. It is a display garden featuring native plants, a water feature, vegetable-growing areas, greenhouse/potting work area, and a cabana. It will showcase sustainable practices using a garden setting. It could also be for public workshops and special community functions as well as a demonstration area for elementary, middle, and high school students. This would be especially valuable to show the public the special values of using native plants in their yards. These facilities could be profit centers for individuals living in the community as well as for the community itself. Part of training programs for young adults and students could also be a source of programs for overnight guests that reflect the culture of the area. Artists could teach workshops, sell their arts or crafts, and provide cooking techniques and demonstrations.

There are many other building designs available to meet various needs for a community with this many functions. The following building is an example. It uses add-on units which can be constructed in the original construction or at a later date.

This is an example of the land plan. Some of the next blogs will discuss how the PDP could be used for the homeless.

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