Rowmer Houseboat Proposal Creative Process
The Nomad Generation: How Architects can Engage a Community on the Move
As I celebrate the start of my eighth year of studying design and reflect on the way it has empowered me to complete a personal project during the shutdown of 2020, the culmination has created a desire to explore ways architects can engage communities on the move. As the nomadic community is growing into a wave of individuals who desire affordable living, celebrate the freedom to be on the move, and sustain the energy to learn the language of people and places, architects and designers must position themselves to serve a population which has been trained to avoid the corporate profession of architecture and design. DIY culture has been popularized by social media and mainstream news (yes, I admit to actively participating in this trend), and the encouragement from influencers for consumers to be confident in celebrating their personal design projects has caused millions of people to undervalue the process of thoughtful design in their homes (much to the pleasure of HomeGoods, Hobby Lobby, Target, etc).
The result of a generation who doesn’t understand or support the profession of educated design will be detrimental to interior designers, architects, and landscape architects. With corporate businesses moving to remote platforms in response to a global pandemic—making domestic travel more attainable than ever, I am interested in learning how to integrate the architect’s role into nomad culture because intentional design in space planning and material choices will make the lifestyle easier, more impactful, and sustainable. When preparing for this project, I explored the implications that pushing this message through social media could have on the perception of the “van life” experience, especially in the face of sea level rise, natural disasters, and homelessness.
My MAP project will set a new tradition for temporary living (defined from days to years), and through designing the building process, create a method for others to do the same. The challenge would be to not adapt the method of design, but to adapt the method of delivery. The frontier of the DIY generation gets smaller each day, and architects must fight for their value and redevelop the way they work if they want to serve this generation into the future. In the history of the world, it has never been easier to reach potential clients thanks to social media, so providing expertise into designing an experience is now more marketable than designing a plan. The DIY generation is moving, so architects must go to them unless they’re willing to get left behind. Upon reflection of my school bus project, I have made a house that is ready to be delivered/duplicated on a large scale to nomads which would suit them better than anything else on the bus market. At the same time, I have popularized the DIY lifestyle at the scale of over 45 million views in the past 10 months. The lifestyle of living with less “stuff” is attractive to the nomad community, and hundreds of people have bought my bus floor plans on Etsy for this experience. This suggests that architects could deliver the experience of homes to nomads through plans that they could follow (not AutoCAD drawings which take an experienced eye). This engages both communities, while shifting the architect method of delivery to reach a moving population. 
Watching the tiny house creation through the lens of an architect can make people feel more secure and assured that the plan won’t fail. Based off this reflection, I could see my MAP using the information I’ve learned off my own case study and propel it to reach a broader audience within the nomad community which continues to engage a moving population, while selling the experience from a designer’s perspective whose is more informed and environmentally conscious. After recently reading a book for my last studio, I was reminded of the inevitability of sea level rise with climate change, and that may be an interesting point to attach this project to. The issue affects architecture, landscape architecture, and the nomadic community, and we are aware of a new coastal condition occurring which will alter geography and continue to change the way people adapt to coastal living. The options come down to a mass migration or a celebration of ideas such as floating cities. Since Miami is the first victim of this challenge in the States, it is obvious of the enormous amount of people and infrastructure it will affect, and perhaps my MAP will address this challenge by offering people the expertise to adapt to coastal living through experiencing the lifestyle via the lens of architecture. I am excited to finally settle on some clarity on the details of my decision. As we have discussed, my project will build on a project I have already completed, the Roamer Bus, and use my excitement and self-sustained interest in that project to plan and complete this next project. 
My interest in tiny housing has come from a direct observation of the benefits it has on mental health, sustainability, and motivation to get outside. These characteristics make tiny houses a great alternative to traditional single and multi-family dwelling units. As my first step, I will describe what the Roamer Bus project was, what it meant to me, and why I decided to do it. ​​​​​
Being a student of design, I had heard the term “sustainability” get thrown around often, which is defined: to reduce negative impacts to the environment. When applied to a lifestyle, I believed it could mean much more. In 2019, I became increasingly aware of the shrinking life cycle of products and finishes which are a major contributor to landfill waste. Many appliances, kitchen tools, and everyday utensils are difficult to recycle which makes their life cycle very short. For me, the first step of being a responsible design student was to try to live more sustainable by shrinking the resources I had. This task required taking inventory of tools I needed to suit the lifestyle I aspired to live. By reducing the number of items I had to upkeep and replace, it let me focus on only using tools which could be used for multiple tasks and had longer life cycles. In retrospect, benefits of this decision have affected both my quality of life and have placed me in control of what I have. 
Another idea I believed was that living in a smaller space would inspire a greater appreciation for the value and durability of resources. It would require forming habits which contribute to the goal of a sustainable lifestyle. I pictured how easy it would be to practice sustainability in a tiny house through using tools such as a solar generator, making green choices such as reusing dishwater, and sourcing materials which were repurposed. These are ways that tiny living would make it easier to be sustainable. Sustainability relates to tiny living by improving the quality of life experienced in a small space while making the world a better place for people and other forms of life which don’t have the privilege to make a healthier, productive environment. This results in controlling your space and possessions instead of letting them control you.
That motivation, paired with my desire to make a real space promote wellness, inspiration, and happiness led me to do a self-directed design build. Knowing I wanted the outcome to have the attributes of increasing productivity, contentment, and health, I chose to settle on those three elements to see if it was enough for a fulfilling life. The process of taking inventory of my habits, possessions, and goals to plan a strategy to simplify my life, save money, and inspire others to experience life instead of living life manifested in 2020 through the creation of a school bus tiny house. Six months of daily labor, self-education (after homework, classes, and grad assistantships), and plenty of bruises resulted in the Roamer Bus, and without it, my outlook on this subject would not be the same. My greatest accomplishment in these regards has been that project, and true to my passion to stay motivated and productive, I can reflect on what I have learned, what feedback I’ve received, and what inspires me to continue inspiring the world through good design with the root of sustainability at the core.
For my MAP proposal, I want to consider how DIY tiny living could reverse a mass migration in the event of the crisis of sea level rise in future cities. My site will be a flooded coastal city, where traditional architecture and city planning will be submerged and require a pivot in a housing typology unless people move inland. I am excited to explore what it would take to motivate and inspire everyday people to address sea level rise with a strategy other than fleeing from it. I truly believe this project, whatever outcome comes out of it, could benefit both myself and millions of others who may consider the proposal based on the audience I have built over the past year. My exploration of how DIY tiny living could reverse a mass migration in the event of the crisis of sea level rise in future cities is unique because it caters to a community which can implement change on their own. Currently, over 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas (typically located in coastal areas), but it is projected that over 2.5 billion additional people will flood into these urban centers by 2050 (Ulf Kjellerup). Since climate change will affect coastal cities by reducing surface land area along the water, traditional architecture and city planning must pivot to accommodate an inevitable future. Until this point, city dwellers have relied on the lengthy process of navigating city budgets and scheming urban planning regarding expansion of infrastructure and growth patterns in these dense centers. Could the next housing movement be powered by everyday people, who shift the narrative of decision making from the courthouse to the driveway? 

If this movement was a storyboard, what if the lead roles started with people who would be taking on a new living situation? These agents would embody DIYers who take on a global challenge and overcome it through sustainable design thinking, efficient execution, and an interesting alternative to temporary or long-term dwelling. A common hypothesis to accommodate population growth during sea level rise is the narrative of floating cities. These cities would be tethered to platforms attached to the seabed (Tina Vejrum) and function similar to floating bridges. An example of one is the Bjørnafjord Bridge in Norway, which will be the worlds largest floating bridge. Canada has a similar floating bridge that could be used as a case study for a prototype for a concept. COWI, a leading consulting group of engineers, is leading the front on this concept of the floating city, and as opposed to oil platforms which are designed for a useful lifetime of 25 years, their goal is to make a floating city platform which lasts over 100. 

While there are research groups like COWI who are exploring this method of dealing with sea level rise, I want to propose a strategy which empowers DIYers to use public waters as their canvas to live, recreate, and work. If nomad culture is booming at the scale of making national headlines (such as the recent death of a van life girl by her boyfriend Bryan in the Tetons which has seized the internet this past week, or the Netflix documentary titled Expedition Happiness which follows a couple living and traveling full time in a bus), there will be interest in a new generation of tiny living which starts to move onto the water. This may be initiated in rivers and lakes through people moving onto the waters of the Tennessee RiverLine, but would manifest in unique communities off the coast of cities which could be moved in the case of natural disasters. 
As floods would not affect these potential communities, the motivation for the idea lies in reducing property damage, regulating density and providing alternate living accommodations to keep up with demand of housing. Where the invention of floating cities through land reclamation is a common theme, I believe there is a way to successfully implement a proposal without the expensive and unsustainable practice of dumping excess soil into the ocean to build these floating infrastructures. Considering a proposal addressing sea level rise which empowers everyday people to address this global crisis on their own, there will no doubt be a myriad of challenges. The key for successful implementation stems from finding ways to navigate around the restrictions and zoning laws to avoid deferring this type of project for a long time. I will outline some of these obstacles and loopholes to side-step them which will strengthen the case that DIYers could tackle this issue on their own to reverse an inevitable mass migration.

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