According to the UN report, “World Population to 2300, ” the global urban population is expected to rise to approximately 5 billion over the next 20 years. With the vast majority of the world’s population residing in urban areas, urban planners and environmentalists often end up in dispute over urban expansion. Today’s architects are scrambling to find solutions to housing problems before they truly impact the world residents; we have seen every kind of proposed solution from 3D printed homes to repurposed shipping containers.

Now, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has tossed its own idea for future living into the hat with the unveiling of their SCADpad project. Designed and developed by an interdisciplinary SCAD team of 75 current students, 37 alumni and 12 SCAD professors from 12 academic degree programs, SCADpad is a micro-housing and adaptive reuse experiment that transformed the parking structure of the school’s midtown Atlanta location into a sustainable community, proposing an answer to the world’s growing urban housing challenges.


The former parking garage is home to student designed micro-pod homes: tiny units that encompass a living, dining, studying and sleeping space all into a pod small enough to fit into a single parking spot.

The community features a customizable work station built by SCAD furniture design students, boasting a hands-free, intuitive 3D printer interface, which allows any resident at SCADpad to issue a print command to create wall attachments without pressing a single button, a park that features custom-designed furniture from SCAD students and helps to transform the uninhabitable parking deck into a livable space inspired by nature, and a community garden watered with filtered greywater (i.e. wastewater) from one of the SCADpad units and fed by a fiber optic sun-harvesting system and high-efficiency composting systems.

With sustainability as the foremost goal, SCADpad also includes a waste management center for recycling, composting and trash disposal dubbed NuBox, constructed completely of reclaimed wood. The NuBox teaches residents to view traditional waste management as nutrient management.


“SCAD is a global university, so we see firsthand the urban density issues that the world’s most populous cities face, ” said Paula Wallace, president and co-founder of SCAD, in their April 9 press release.

“In celebrating our 35th year, SCAD creates SCADpad, an entirely new vision of urban community that focuses the ideas of our students and the expertise of our faculty and alumni in disciplines ranging from urban design, adaptive reuse, and architecture to interior design, service design, interaction design, design for sustainability and fine art. The result is a now solution – a sustainable urban micro-housing community that projects relevance far beyond form and function to the Vitruvian principles of utility, strength, and delight. SCADpad creates an environment for inventive and artful living.”


The project’s proposed solution to the urban housing issue is dependent on the availability of parking garages to convert into habitable residences. Thankfully, in most urban areas, there is little to no shortage of them. In fact, there are 105 million parking spaces in the U.S., five spaces for every car. Therefore, the vast majority of existing parking garages operate at half-capacity, ready to be transformed into sustainable living spaces to accommodate the world’s growing need.

Surprisingly, however, no one has looked to these structures as solutions for housing.

Christian Sottile, Dean of the School of Building Arts, SCAD understands why. “Parking structures are a unique and very recent building type. It’s not a structure that cities, architects and designers have examined as opportunities for urban living.”

Sottile explains that architects are faced with the challenge of transforming these “cold, uninhabitable spaces built for cars, not humans”.

“At SCAD, we see many of these 20th century structures as a huge adaptive reuse and historic preservation opportunity to bring art and design together to delight the user and sustainably evolve these buildings already in place.”

The SCADpad Atlanta location welcomed its initial residents, 12 SCAD students from the Atlanta and Savannah locations, on April 15.

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Category: Architecture