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Alternative, Affordable Student Housing – Cellular Shades

Controlled Daylighting for Alternative Homes

Students need to focus for good outputs while learning concepts and skills to be adopted in professions. A safe and comfortable place to live in is a crucial part of student life. But student housing, on or off campus, poses challenges that need careful consideration before students decide where to live.





One of the biggest problems for students is finding housing close to the campus. While finding accommodation on campus is a possible solution, many large universities have way too many students to house, and auxiliary campuses and buses are the only solutions to provide enough accessible housing.


The increasing demand for off-campus accommodation has relentlessly driven rentals up, making them unaffordable options, especially for out of city aspirants, as it would include utilities and the extra cost of to and fro transport, added to which they have the burden of buying meals. This is untenable, especially for students on loans to fund their education.




Students living off-campus also have to deal with safety issues of theft and burglaries – often, students are forced to find housing in low-income neighbourhoods, and are targeted for their computers, cars, and money; students are inexperienced and careless about security measures like installing a burglar alarm system or securing windows properly.




Privacy and Space

Students living in dorms may find it too distracting to focus as many people live together in limited spaces, compromising privacy, especially art and music students who need to put in long hours of practice.




Tiny Student Housing Experiment in Atlanta

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has successfully completed their next generation urban housing design project, which involved repurposing an abandoned parking deck by turning it into affordable student housing. Known as SCADpads, the design incorporates the construction of tiny houses on the top deck of a parking garage. Each unit is the size of a single parking space, 135 sq ft, and includes a number of sustainable and innovative features, such as 3D-printed toilets, greywater gardens, custom-designed furniture, as well as many other typical urban living amnesties like a full-sized bathroom and shower, a living area with a bed and desk, as well as ample storage space and a convertible daybed that functions as a sofa and a spare bed. Made of wood, they can be hauled by a car, which means that they could, conceivably, be transported anywhere. The SCADpads are also designed to let in ample natural light with the incorporation of large windows.




Affordable Living Solutions in Los Angeles

A team of UCLA students and faculty from the college’s architecture and urban design group have developed a prototype of an affordable dwelling, the BI(h)OME, that could solve the student housing shortage. Measuring 350 sq ft, it’s made of a light-weight steel pipe frame to be placed on a simple, gabion foundation made out of wire-caged rock, featuring wooden framed walls and a double layered plastic skin that is durable and recyclable. Cut paper cylinders are inserted between the layers of plastic. The designers hope to print photovoltaics on the outer layer of the home for power. While the concept seems sustainable and a model for emerging technologies, it remains to be seen if it is indeed viable for long-term usage, especially as it lacks insulation, which would make it very hot or cold. SCADpads could well prove to be the solution to student housing.




In Poland, Housing on Rails

This project comprises expandable tiny homes, conceptualized by Polish architecture students Tomasz Zablotny and Paweł Maszota, to be moved around on existing tracks in Gdańsk Shipyard and is envisioned to serve a commune of artists. It was also conceived to invigorate the one bustling ship yard. The tiny dwellings would be constructed from laminated wood and steel, and measure just 209 x 150 x 243 cm (6.85 x 4.92 x 7.97 ft) when in a “closed state” – that is, when unoccupied or in transport. When someone is in residence, the homes would pull outwards and increase in length by an additional 1 m (3.2 ft). The interior boasts a small toilet and shower area (with plush-looking fittings), a kitchenette, a pull-out countertop table, and a couch that turns into a bed. A skylight offers natural light during the day, and the homes would get at least some of their required juice from roof-based solar panels.




The Issue of Controlled Daylighting

While large window spaces do make sense for many reasons in tiny dwellings, the one incontrovertible facts remains that if window spaces exceed 30% of a home’s envelope, it will result in overheating of the interiors, though well-oriented energy efficient windows can provide efficient space heating and lighting. Operable windows do make sense as they can be left open on warm days, without having to tax the cooling system. In cooling climates, North facing windows are extremely beneficial in collecting the heat of the winter sunlight, but as in the case of movable homes, it’s not always possible to choose the window orientation.




The Energy Efficient Cellular Shades

Whatever a window’s size and design, one can never go wrong with shading that’s chosen for functional and aesthetic value. Though there is an array of window dressings to choose from, the most energy efficient of them remains the cellular shades, and they don’t burn a hole into the pocket if chosen wisely and bought when there are seasonal discounts offered.

Cellular shades are designed to mimic the honeycomb structure that is efficient in trapping air that forms a barrier between a window and a room, keeping cool air in summer, and warm air in winter. The bigger their cells and the cellular layers, the more the air that is trapped, offering the better insulation. The denser the fabric, the less the light that is let in, and some options sandwich a metalized film that cuts out 100% of the ambient light for the benefit of those light sleepers or those who need their sleep during the day.

Today, companies like Graber have many varieties of the cellular shades in their collection, to meet with a variety of customer needs. They include –
1. The CrystalPleat Cellular shades with Top-Down-Bottom-Up
2. The CrystalPleat Sun-Up-Sun-Down Cellular Shades
3. The CrystalPleat PerfectVue Pleated Cellular Shades

The CrystalPleat range is offered in Sheer, light filtering, room darkening and blackout fabrics of various styles, with the standard and motorized control options, for any variety of window sizes. They are available in combinations of pleated and cellular fabrics of different densities for multiple functions of privacy, lighting, and insulation.
The CrystalPleat Cellular Shades offer the single most versatile window shading for sustainably built homes. Go for it. It’s sales galore at Zebra blinds!




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