Whitepaper UC110: Design for Urban Camp Homes

Urban Camp targets people living on the street, often in tent camps.  The design is for a living space that helps these people transition to better lives. 

The details of the living space are adapted to people living on the street.  But they are the same details that you or I or anyone would want in a living space.

Download the Whitepaper

Part 1: Design Thinking

1.1 Homes that are Safe, Secure, Clean, and Livable

  • Safety: The first priority is a space that is safe for people.  This means compliance with the fire and building codes that apply in any urban area.  The space must resist external forces from wind, snow, earthquake, and live loads.  The materials must be fire resistant.  And the doors and windows must allow for safe way to leave the unit in an emergency.
  • Security:  The Urban Camp design is for personal control of access to home by user.  While occupied, the space should be secure against unwanted entry.  And while unoccupied it should serve as a secure storage for personal belongings.  Urban Camp makes this work by including a separate utility area separate from the living space, so that maintenance can be performed without entry.
  • Cleanliness: The design includes details for personal cleanliness: toilet, sink, and shower within personal space.  This creates a sense of ownership for the user, and a motivation for regular cleaning.  Water use within the unit is measured and controlled for very low consumption.  This allows for off-grid use where a water feed to the site is not practical
  • All-Weather:  The design is for year round occupancy in both cold and hot weather.  The unit is highly insulated to allow standard temperatures to be maintained with the minimal energy input. Heating and Cooling are hydronic to require only simple and safe systems at the living unit, with the equipment located remotely in the utility building.
  • Small Footprint: The small foot print allows for just the basics: bath area, bed area, and pantry area.  The 8 feet x 12 feet overall dimension allows homes to fit within a standard parking space.
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1.2 Homes in Small Groups Accepted by the Community

  • Traditional Home Look:  Urban Camp Homes are designed with traditional home finishes inside and out to appeal to the user and the community.
  • Neighborhood:  The Urban Camp Home System is designed for up to 10 units per utility module.  The purpose is to limit the size of the grouping to be more acceptable to the community.   The systems can easily expand to larger numbers of homes, but community impact should be considered.
  • Urban Location: We accept the complicated dynamic in urban areas that cause tent camps to exist in specific locations.  The units are designed to be installed in empty lots, parking lots, and under roadways
  • An Address:  An address is an important part of the Urban Camp system. Each unit has an address that allows for delivery of social, medical, emergency and living services.
  • Site Maintenance:  Urban Camp offers site management services and sets standards for performance of site management by public, business, or charitable organizations.  The off-grid site utility configuration requires weekly servicing for water and sewage.  Any items outside the allocated personal space, is subject to weekly cleanup and removal.
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1.3 Innovative Power, Water, and Sewer Systems

  • Off-Grid Capability:  Existing tent camps are not typically in residential areas, where utility service is easily available.  Urban Camp systems are ready to use in locations without on-grid power, water, and sewer.  This reduces the time and cost to install.
  • Energy Efficient:  To make off-grid systems work, and on-grid systems, highly efficient, Urban Camp homes are designed for minimal power and water consumption.
  • Green Energy:  Low energy use means that solar power is practical.  Urban Camp Solar is based on an array of panels on the roof of each home, and an energy collection and management system in the utility structure.  Remote panel mounting is available for under highway installations.
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1.4 Low Costs, Fixed Costs to Deploy and Operate

  • Fast Deployment: Urban Camp hoes are pre-engineered, pre-approved, factory built modules for solutions in months, not years.  The homes are designed to meet code requirements in urban areas throughout the US.
  • Install Almost Anywhere:  Homes are designed to be installed in small groups in parking lots, under highways, on vacant lots, or in uneven ground.  Small lightweight housing units have minimal support requirements.
  • Easy to Relocate:  Modules can be re-furbished and moved to new sites to adapt to the dynamics of urban development.
  • Low Cost, Fixed Cost:  Low fixed cost pricing is possible because of the standardization of design and manufacturing in a factory environment. Fixed price quotations for homes, utilities, installation, and servicing
  • Site Services for On-Going Success:  Off-grid and partial grid systems are designed for weekly servicing of water and sewage.  Site inspection and cleanup with refuse servicing is included in the weekly service requirement.  Additional weekly services may include food delivery and wellness checks by service personnel, or charitable organizations.

Part 2: Design Elements

2.1 Structure

  • Skeleton:  A steel frame skeleton joins the roof, floor and wall panels.  The skeleton provides the strength and flexibility needed for handling the unit during manufacturing, transporting to site, and setting in place for use.
  • Roof:  The roof is a highly insulated panel designed for the load with multi-layer membrane exterior, and gypsum board interior for fire resistance.
  • Walls:  The walls are insulated panels with membrane water barriers, fiber cement exterior and gypsum board interior for fire resistance.
  • Floors: The floor panel is highly insulated with an exterior water-proof membrane and pressure treated wood construction.
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2.2 Finish Materials

  • Doors and Windows: The primary door is a steel door and frame with deadbolt lock. Within the door there is a window with security glass and hinged to open to provide additional ventilation.  The window exterior is protected by a stainless steel security screen.
  • Exterior Finishes:  The exterior wall finish is fiber cement material in traditional siding patterns and a variety of classic colors. The finish is fire and vandal resistant with zero maintenance requirements.
  • Interior Finishes:  Interior Finishes are designed to be water proof or resistant, highly durable, and easy to clean.  Puncture resistant waterproof gypsum board interior panels provide fire protection.  Flooring is sheet vinyl with classic design patterns.  Bath area walls are waterproof.
  • Outside Deck: Composite decking material is installed outside at grade to provide required egress, an access ramp, and an outside personal storage space.

2.3 Use of Space

  • Sleeping Area.  The sleeping area is a simple ADA height platform sized for a single person and expandable to sleep 2.  A family design of a double unit would sleep 4.
  • Bath Area.  The bath area is a toilet sink and shower mounted on the utility wall.  A simple curtain separates the bath area when needed.
  • Pantry Area.  The pantry area has a work surface and shelving for food storage and prep.  Simple cooktops and coolers can be added as accessories with additional ventilation.
  • Storage Space.  Walls are outfitted with extensive storage space for personal goods.

2.4 Plumbing System

  • Water:  Clean water is stored at the remote utility building.  It is pumped in a closed piping system to the living units.  Hot water flows through a heating unit so that hot and cold water are delivered to the living unit.  Water use is strictly managed.  The Off-Grid system is designed for weekly clean water delivery service.
  • Toilet.  A standard ceramic flush toilet is included in the bath.  It is wall mounted for an easily cleanable floor space.  Very durable unit allows for a home, rather than institutional look.  Water flows to a blackwater tank in the utility space. A vacuum system in the remote utility building removes the waste to a central storage tank which is serviced weekly.
  • Sink.  The sink has hot and cold water delivered.  Water flow is controlled in short cycles to minimize waste. The sink is oversized to allow for handwashing of clothes, towels, and bedding.  Water outflows to the blackwater tank in the utility space.
  • Shower. The shower has hot and cold water delivered.  Water flow is controlled in short cycles to minimize waste. The shower floor drain uses a small pump to move used water to the blackwater tank in the utility space.
  • Tanks.  The utility space has a 5 gallon head tank for the toilet which is auto-refilled from the water supply piping.  There is a 25 gallon blackwater tank for wastewater which is removed to the remote utility area using a vacuum piping system.
  • Controls.  An electronic controller in the utility space controls and monitors the plumbing system.  The controller connects to a master controller in the remote utility building, which transmits data to the cloud for offsite monitoring and management.
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2.5 Heating, Cooling, and Vent

2.6 Electrical, Lighting, and Data

  • Electrical.  The electrical system in the dwelling unit is all 12 VDC, the same voltage used in automobiles.  This keeps the dwelling space safe.  The 12V power is fed to the unit from an energy storage system in the remote utility building.
  • Lighting.  High efficiency LED lighting is used for in the dwelling space and an exterior light above the door.  Lighting controls include a short cycle time-out to minimize energy use.
  • Smoke and CO2 Alarms.  The dwelling space includes Smoke Alarm and CO2 Alarm devices as required by the building code.
  • Data:  The dwelling space includes USB chargers for personal electronics.  Wi-Fi internet service is provided from the remote utility structure.
  • Controls: An electronic controller in the utility space controls and monitors the electrical system.  The controller connects to a master controller in the remote utility building, which transmits data to the cloud for offsite monitoring and management.
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