Interns renovate mobile home into an enivronmentally friendly home
Mobile homes are no longer a symbol of prefab consistency thanks to a group of CU students.
CU Students from the College of Architecture and Planning have transformed a 1965 vintage trailer in the Mapleton Mobile Home Park to a chic and contemporary home that is energy efficient and environmentally conscious.
The program, known as TrailerWrap, is an internship open to all architecture students looking to receive one to three credit hours for their work.
There are no remains of the vintage trailer that was offered to the public for free. Students stripped the mobile home down to its chassis and completely rebuilt thereafter. The project started with the conceptual design in the fall of 2005 and began construction of the new building in February of 2006.
The one-bedroom, 500-square-foot mobile home is scheduled to be completed this spring, yet that goal remains unofficial due to issues with weather and a small labor force. The home looks nearly completed from the outside; however, the plumbing, interior detail, heating and electricity still need to be finished.
Director of TrailerWrap Bruce Wrightsman said the finalizing touches of the project are to be the most difficult.
“One of the many difficulties is that most of the students who originally designed the trailer have graduated, now its up to a small group of students to complete the very tedious task of finalizing the details,” Wrightsman said.
Besides addressing the benefits of sustainability and energy efficiency, the newly designed mobile home has many extra features including a slanted rooftop facing the sun easily prepared for retrofitting to solar panels.
When designing the interior, students wanted to keep it open with an easy flow from room to room; therefore, there are no defining walls that separate the rooms. It also has an enclosed outdoor redwood patio that serves as another living space.
“We wanted to reconfigure the way you enter a house; the outdoor space is essentially an extension of the living room,” Wrightsman said.
The philosophy of the students was to use reclaimed materials. With a limited budget of $32,000, this seemed necessary. Therefore, all the redwood is reused, and the intricate tabletop counters in the kitchen are damaged doors the students purchased for a low price. All the windows were found at a closeout warehouse near Denver. TrailerWrap also received some donated materials but many of the materials were discounted for their cause. The students got free rentals on machinery; however, some items, such as steel, were purchased at a regular price.
Although students have done most of the design and construction, they had some help from professionals along the way. An engineer designed the structural system and they will receive help in the future for routing the electrical, plumbing, central heating and air conditioning.
TrailerWrap is partnered with Thistle Community Housing, Mapleton Mobile Homeowners Association and the University of Colorado Department of Facilities Management. The project has received a total of $32,000 in the form of three grants from CU and several other donations. Willem van Vliet, director of Children, Youth and Environment Center for Research and Design has been a prominent figure in the program for he wrote the grants needed to get TrailerWrap off the ground.
“The benefits of this project are that architecture students get to see their design through, they are able to realize that while their concept can be good on paper, its not always the same once you build it,” Wrightsman said.
Mary Calvani, a senior architecture major who worked on the mobile home throughout the summer, agrees.
“TrailerWrap is an awesome program because it helps the community as well as teaches architecture students an important lesson; as future designers, we learned the reality of putting an idea to test while working on its construction,” Calvani said. “The feeling is quite rewarding.”
The trailer is to be auctioned off at a marketable price once it is completed. After dispersing the profits among its supporters, The College of Architecture and Planning will think about starting a new project.