April 15, 2014 Atlanta - Picture shows common area on the 4th floor of SCAD Atlanta's parking garage, where three fully functional and fully furnished 135-square-foot SCADpad units are located, on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) unveiled SCADpad, a unique micro-housing and adaptive reuse experiment that transformed the parking structure of its midtown Atlanta location into a sustainable community that proposes an answer to the world's growing urban housing challenges. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: Hyosub Shin
Photo: Hyosub Shin

SCAD tries out housing with smaller footprint

Savannah College of Art and Design has built a housing community on the fourth floor of SCAD Atlanta’s parking garage.

Three micro residences, also known as SCADPads, are 135-square-foot self-sustainable homes. (OK, we know some of you are thinking that’s a better size for just a living room or a bedroom.)

A SCAD team constructed these mini homes to start a worldwide conversation of the benefits of self-sustainable homes with small economic footprints. The SCADPad community is a working prototype of what parking deck housing would look like if unused or underused decks were transitioned from parking to housing. Each home can fit into a single parking space. Though the “pads” are mobile, their functionality extends beyond that.

With other campuses in Hong Kong and Lacoste, France, SCAD Atlanta students and faculty conceived the idea once they saw firsthand how space was at a premium and population continued to grow within the nation and other countries.

“For years, I’ve been reading about challenges in urban environments and also witnessed them firsthand when traveling to all our SCAD communities,” SCAD President Paula Wallace said.

Students went through an application process to have the chance to live in a SCADPad for a few days. The first three students moved in on Tuesday: a junior, photography major Carlos Maldonado; a senior, graphic design major Lynda Spratley; and interior design graduate student Sharika Menon.

The SCADPads are extremely private, with the ability to personalize them to make them your own.

“I will enjoy the time to myself,” said Tami Black, interior design student.

Black will move in May 13.

“I am excited that my input could possibly impact the future,” Black said.

Each “pad” at SCAD Atlanta’s parking garage represents SCAD’s three locations: SCADPad Asia, Europe and North America.

“We looked at these strengths of all these departments within our school to take this issue head on,” said interior design professor Khoi Vo.

The SCADPad community is completely designed by SCAD students, faculty and alumni. It involved the work of 75 current students, 37 alumni and 12 SCAD professors. From architecture to sustainability, each SCAD department had a hand in this project. Even audio students had a hand in the creation of interactive wallpaper in the “pads” in which residents can touch the walls and music will play.

The space may be limited inside, but there are many details about the SCADPads that make these homes unique and environment-friendly. The “pads” come complete with working sinks and showers that are built on a gray water system.

“The water from the sink and shower is sent through a micro filter and held in a 35-gallon tank,” said Scott Boylston, sustainability professor. Residents can recycle the water once it is filtered.

Waste, stored in black tanks, is removed with a sewer hose and disposed of. Sustainability student Jerome Elder designed a waste recycle system, Nu Box, to break down organic waste.

There is a 100-square-foot garden in the parking deck. SCAD students created solar collectors placed outside the parking garage, and those collect sunlight and channel it through 50-watt bulbs placed over the garden.

The “pads” also have working a single stovetop, a microwave, a refrigerator, and electrical plugs. Electricity comes from the parking deck (the old-fashioned way, not from the solar collectors).

Throughout the SCADPads, you’ll see the work of SCAD students and alumni.

Students’ designs include the interactive wallpaper, along with lights that can change colors based on your mood (and turn themselves off when you forget) and an app-controlled window system.

Dinnerware, flatware, lamps and artwork were all made by SCAD students or alumni. Vegan bath products created by SCAD students are used in the bathrooms to help the gray water system filter water without extra harsh chemicals.

Each SCADPad has a corresponding lounging deck that is also the width of a parking space. The outside shell of each “pad” was designed and built by SCAD alumni.

Ultimately the bigger spectrum of the project would allow residents to create their “pad” however they desire. “You could have a SCADPad made completely of glass if you wanted,” Wallace said.

According to SCAD research in Miami, median monthly studio rent is $1,319, and a median monthly parking rate is $150. Those at SCAD are passionate about the large difference in costs to construct more buildings when parking decks that are unused and forgotten can essentially be used for housing with the SCADPads.

“Parking structures are not a building that we’ve really turned our attention to. We ignore them, but cities worldwide have parking decks,” said Christian Sottile, dean of the School of Building Arts.

Sottile has predicted the cost to purchase a SCADPad will start at $40,000.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.