BOONE, N.C. — After the successful completion of an off-the-shelf tiny home for nonprofit LIFE Village Inc. by students in Appalachian State University’s Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment (STBE) in summer 2018, the STBE department was awarded funding for a second project with the organization.
In fall 2018, students in the Building Science Architectural Design Studio III collaborated with LIFE Village to design housing schemes specifically intended for the users they will serve — adults with autism.
Jason Miller, associate professor and director of the building sciences program in the STBE department, received a $5,000 grant from LIFE Village to fund the project. He collaborated with STBE colleagues Chelsea Helms, practitioner-in-residence, and Drs. Jamie Russell and Andrew Windham, associate and assistant professor, respectively, in the STBE department.
Miller said, referring to Architecture for Autism, “the built environment is often unbearable and confusing” for those with autism and related disorders.
“Adapting the context of the physical environment to support changes in the social environment for those on the autism spectrum presents a significant design problem,” he continued.
Miller’s studio class examined an array of relevant research topics and engaged in a variety of empathy exercises, he said.
Referencing Andrew Brand, research assistant at the Royal College of Art’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design in the UK, Miller said students also explored a range of architectural strategies to counter the “risk of placing people in buildings that do not meet their needs or aspirations.”
Additionally, Miller said, through the design process, the students worked with the LIFE Village board and Appalachian faculty to provide spaces that strive to determine the needs of users with autism and facilitate those needs through creative design solutions to support LIFE Village’s mission — “create a community which fosters a place for adults with autism to live, learn, and grow.”
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About the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment at Appalachian State University features an integrated array of programs spanning the fields of sustainable design and technology. Its mission is to foster a strong and vibrant culture of inquiry, discovery and innovation that integrates theory with application, problem seeking with problem-solving, local issues with global perspectives and technological progress with environmental stewardship. It offers bachelor’s degrees in sustainable technology and building science, and a master’s degree in technology. Learn more at https://stbe.appstate.edu.
About the College of Fine and Applied Arts
Appalachian State University’s College of Fine and Applied Arts is a dynamic and innovative group of seven academic departments, bringing together a variety of perspectives, experiences and real-world education to provide unique opportunities for student success. The college has more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate majors. Its departments are Applied Design, Art, Communication, Military Science and Leadership, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, and Theatre and Dance. Learn more at https://faa.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.