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Tiny Design Gets Big Recognition for UB Students at International MICRO HOUSE Competition

By Brenna Zanghi

Release Date November 2, 2017

Bigger is no longer better; two UB students have received global recognition for their “Micro-House” design submitted to the Future House: MICRO HOUSE competition, organized by Future House Organization. Students and professionals alike were invited to participate in the competition, which challenged contestants to design a micro-home (under approximately 500 square feet) as a prototype for future houses in an evolving world. UB Master of Architecture students Frank C. Kraemer and Jelani A. Lowe took the challenge head-on by creating their adaptive design, titled “BLOOM.”

With space becoming an increasingly valuable resource to a growing population, Kraemer and Lowe sought to bridge technology and the environment into one cohesive design. They focused on three elements: home, the environment, and the inhabitant. BLOOM was built to intertwine each element into one symbiotic relationship, utilizing building geometry and design elements intended to influence comfort and happiness through variables like bioclimatic conditions.

BLOOM is akin to a living organism; Kraemer and Lowe designed a façade of light-weight steel panels for BLOOM, all angled for optimal solar heat according to the inhabitant’s desires, while also providing adequate shade through perforations in the steel. These perforations also allow for a constant airflow, even when closed. The trellis provides structural support as well as additional shade, and a green wall doubles as a water reserve below the solar panels—installed on the slanted roof. BLOOM adjusts to the environment on hydraulic legs, shifting as the world changes over time. The design is 483 square feet, with high ceilings giving an illusion of excess space.

With BLOOM, Kraemer and Lowe attempted to rethink efficiency in regards to nature and time. They thought beyond the house as a single unit and designed a system of organization for BLOOM neighborhoods in varying environments. The homes, when specifically oriented according to the environment and each other, can provide natural cross ventilation in tropical environments, or barriers from freezing winds in colder climates.

The MICRO HOUSE competition was Kraemer’s first competition. Both Kraemer and Lowe are in the second year of their Masters of Architecture tracks.