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The Competition

Tiny Victories 1.0 was a design competition held in 2014, with a goal to provide homes for our homeless brothers and sisters in need and explore innovative solutions for affordable, efficient housing.

The original competition brief is provided below.


Home is more than where you reside. This competition is an opportunity to explore the essential characteristics of home.

A program of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Community First! Village is a 27-acre master-planned community that will provide affordable, sustainable housing and a supportive community for the disabled, chronically homeless in Central Texas.

Community First! Village is an exciting new concept in providing permanent, supportive, affordable and sustainable housing to the chronically homeless based in a loving and hospitable environment with amenities to improve the quality of life.  The village will incorporate an understanding of the RV industry's inherent quality of "community", which arises when people live in close contact with one another in dignified homes.

The 8 essential characteristics of home

  • permanence

  • dwelling

  • stories + memories

  • embodied habitation (evidence of history + family)

  • safety + refuge

  • hospitality

  • orientation

  • affiliation + belonging


The object of the competition is to design a minimalist shelter or "micro home" suitable to house one person for an extended period of time. The shelter should provide the basic needs of shelter and comfort, while, to the greatest extent possible, promoting one's sense of place among the community of which it is a part.  

The footprint of the home should be no smaller than 144 square feet and no larger than 200 square feet.  Rectilinear footprints are preferred. Covered porches are encouraged but must be attached directly to the entry door of the enclosed space and shall not increase the overall footprint by more than 30%.

The enclosed space should be designed to contain one sleeping area, sized to accommodate a twin-sized bed (54" x 75", typical) with a small closet or similar suitable storage facility.  A built in counter is desirable. Universal and innovative arrangements are encouraged, but constructibility and economy should take precedent. Finishes are left to the discretion of the designers, but durability and low maintenance inside and out is important.


The house should be designed to take advantage of the local climatic conditions for the site located at Latitude 30.2500° N, 97.7500°.  Passive thermal design practices are highly encouraged. It's important to note that orientation of the units will vary on site. As a result, universal shading strategies should be applied to minimize the effects of solar heat gain in the summer and maximize solar warming in winter. The same approach should be considered with regard to cooling. Operable windows and convective ventilation should be employed to maximize comfort. Ceiling and exhaust fans may be incorporated to promote airflow and ameliorate extreme summer conditions. Optimizing thermal insulation in the structural assemblies will make the houses much more livable in both summer and winter. Innovative thermal strategies are encouraged.


As a general practice, residential projects planned in Austin should conform where applicable to standards set forth in the 2012 International Residential Code for One and Two Family Dwellings, particularly Chapters 3-9 for construction and 35-40 for electrical service. While building permits are not typically required for accessory structures under 200 square feet, a general knowledge of local residenial building requirements and Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS) is encouraged.

Whenever possible, standard lumber and material dimensions should be considered in the design to minimize waste & cost and maximize material efficiency. The space must be fully enclosed to provide basic protection for its occupant(s) from wind, rain, sun, temperature extremes, rodents, insects, and other avoidable discomforts. One secure entry door must be provided. Operable windows are preferred. The entry door and any operable windows must be augmented with insect screens. Orientation and placement of the door and windows are left to the discretion of the designer.


No active heating or air conditioning systems are to be provided by the design. Ceiling and / or exhaust fans are encouraged. No plumbing services are necessary. Tenants will utilize common facilities for restrooms, showers, and laundry. Electrical service is to be included, through a 30 Amp sub-panel. In addition to basic lighting, two 15 Amp duplex receptacles are necessary to accommodate small appliances (radio, TV, microwave, mini fridge, space heater, box fan, etc.). Smoke and carbon dioxide detectors shall be included as well.


Expression is left to the discretion of the designer. AIA Austin and Community First! strongly encourage a creative or even experimental level of exploration in this endeavor. That said, we ask entrants to consider carefully the mission of Mobile Loaves & Fishes and its objectives with Community First! Village to empower a community and promote dignity. A winning design will be one that exemplifies and personifies that mission. 

Thank you for your participation and contribution.