Barre’s twin tiny homes win architects’ award

Norwich University’s Design + Build Collaborative earned an Honor Award from the Vermont chapter of the American Institute of Architects for a project to design and build LIFT, a pair of tiny homes for vulnerable populations sited in Barre.

Norwich’s entry, in the Small Projects category, was one of 37 entries from across the state.

Norwich’s Design + Build Collaborative partnered with Downstreet Housing and Washington County Mental Health Services to create safe, healthy, affordable and sustainable homes for vulnerable Vermonters. Two new, custom-designed energy-efficient small homes (approximately 360 square feet) now occupy a once-vacant downtown Barre City lot where blighted, deteriorating housing once stood.

“The story is just really compelling, and to me, it’s just sort of a manifestation of how I think architectural education should work, where you have a group of students that are looking at something that’s very mission-driven and then figuring out how to apply architectural knowledge to help solve a larger community and societal problem,” one AIAVT juror said.

A different judge said: “Just thinking about what these students accomplished, I really feel like this is worthy of pretty high recognition.”

The first LIFT house was sited and occupied in January 2020. Former Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon and his wife, Karen, donated the land.

Housing vouchers are paired with the dwellings to serve people who have mental illness and/or are at high risk of homelessness or are now homeless. A Washington County Mental Health Services clinic stands less than a mile away.

Norwich architecture professors Tolya Stonorov and Danny Sagan led a group of students in designing and building the first home to meet Downstreet, Washington County Mental Health Services and residents’ needs and provided the construction documents to Downstreet for future buildings. Civil engineering professor Mark Atwood and a group of construction management, architecture and engineering students used these documents to build the adjacent second home, which was completed during the fall semester.

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  1. It would be nice to know how they were able to obtain building permits, what requirements for construction had to be met, what the cost of construction was and what the continued costs will be.