competition (with Nick Grover).
R-0 Micro Housing
In response to continued trouble making smaller than “normal“ dwelling units mainstream, a number of city officials around the world decided to confront the challenge of land use and financing as primary obstacles to the goal of making micro homes a real option. They called the project Global R-Zero and purchased an array of vacant lots and plots with existing homes in disrepair over a number of years in order to address a missing “middle” in the housing market. This was achieved through a strategy of micro-parceling and infrastructural support to incentivize micro-living.
At the outset, officials outlined a bold plan: subdivide and convert typical residential lots into a new R-0 Zoning; using this new zoning not only to provide housing but also to create resources—food, energy and finances— for the city and its citizens. With the program launch R0 became the most restrictive, but most community minded residential zoning on the books to date. As such, it became a new way to build equality in housing as well as create social resources for disadvantaged members of their communities. This program caused a cultural transformation as it allowed home ownership for those that would otherwise need to rent but perhaps more importantly enlisted the new owners as stewards of food and energy resources for the community.
Let’s look at a case study of a 150 foot x 60 foot lot oriented on an east/west axis in a northern climate. Step 1: Officials broke the lot into 35 foot x 60 foot parcels, thus implementing the new R0 “mini-lot” overlay. The four mini-lots that the site became then was provided a common infrastructure that included: a grid connected solar PV array occupying what would have been the 5 foot north site setback; a solar evacuated tube array, which covers a parking area for residents, provides hot water for sinks, showers, and hydronic radiant slab heating; an urban farm is the final layer on the site and it consists of four chicken coops, four bee hives, and raised planting beds. An extensive underground greywater/rainwater irrigation system feeds the raised beds and four pollinator gardens; compost from table waste, chicken coops, and the required composting toiles in each residence supplement the health of the site. Residents also share laundry. Residents are offered free garbage, recycling and water service by the city if they agree to take care of chickens and plant and harvest the gardens. (otherwise this is taken on by foodbank and parks and rec workers subsidized by the owners utility payments)
The one other critical piece of provided infrastructure is a premade building plot—a 16 foot x 16 foot slab-on-grade that includes integrated PEX lines for hydronic heating. The dimensions of the slab are meant to promote a DYI spirit, as they are easily developed and outfitted using simple math, construction standards, and typical sized building materials. The included case study shows how homes might follow this home improvement store as “kit home” supplier through the whole design with most of the construction being able to be done with almost no cutting of material –simply acquire the right sizes of lumber and sheet goods, bring it all home, and begin assembly!
Residents may use solar to not pay for electricity or if one needs more access to electricity they may pay for supplemental electricity from the grid; conversely, residents who use little electric may claim tax credits for the electricity they give back to the grid. The food from the raised beds is shared equally between R-0 residents and the city foodbank.