Rural Studio's Affordable Design-Builds | The Source Weekly - Bend

Rural Studio's Affordable Design-Builds

Social media is a great source of ideas and inspiration about new solutions to affordable housing. As a realtor, one newsfeed that caught my eye recently included $20,000 homes created by architecture students at Auburn University's design-build program called Rural Studio. Rural Studio "seeks solutions to the needs of the community within the community's own context, not from outside it," according to its website.

For the last decade, Rural Studio has designed a dozen homes in a small town that are affordable for those living below the poverty line, while paying living wages for the construction. Each project is used as a learning tool to find new adjustments and improvements. The homes designed are a compact 550 square feet, but are much larger than the average tiny home, generally considered to be under 220 square feet.

Now, the design-build program has completed its first pilot project in partnership with a commercial developer in a tiny community called Serenbe, outside of Atlanta. The students designed two homes. For each one-bedroom house, materials cost $14,000. Like tiny homes, there are many of the same dilemmas of zoning and acceptance of construction methods by city planners. Zoning problems stem from square footage criteria and because construction methods are a little different, using techniques such as a cantilever foundation unfamiliar to many planners.

The houses do not use pre-fabricated parts (in part because one of the goals of the program is to create jobs), and have a nice look to them. These smaller structures would fit in well in mountain towns, much like cabins in a forest. There are many places in Central Oregon where such conditions exist and the need for affordable housing is present.

Home Price Round-up


60872 Defiance St, Bend, OR 97702

3 beds, 1.5 baths, 1228 square feet,

.37 acre lot | Built in 1979


Listed by Fred Real Estate Group


1782 SE Karena Ct, Bend, OR 97702

3 beds, 2.5 baths, 1546 square feet,

.24 acre lot | Built in 2001


Listed by The Hasson Company


1805 NW Remarkable Dr, Bend, OR 97701

4 beds, 3 baths, 3319 square feet,

.72 acre lot | Built in 2000


Listed by Stellar Realty Northwest

Photos and listing info from Central Oregon Multiple Listing Service