Student Thesis Project Turns Bus Into Tiny House

Who’s Hank? Hank Butitta is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota where he earned a master’s degree in architecture. His final project toward the degree wasn’t a design for a building — it was the bus, which he converted into a motor home.

youtube post by Justin Evidon

Hi! I’m Hank, and I bought a bus.

In architecture school I was tired of drawing buildings that would never exist, for clients that were imaginary, and with details I didn’t fully understand. I prefer to work with my hands, exploring details thoroughly, and enjoy working/prototyping at full scale. So for my Masters Final Project I decided to buy a school bus and convert it into a tiny living space. This was only possible because I was fortunate enough to have an instructor, Adam Marcus , who encourages working at full scale, and allowed me take on such an ambitious and unorthodox project.

The bus was purchased on Craigslist for $3000, and has had about $6000 in improvements. It’s not pocket change, but it’s less than a down payment on a home, and it’s less than I paid in tuition for my last semester of grad school. The majority of the work was completed in 15 weeks, just in time for my final review (although the first seven weeks were almost entirely design and prototyping, with the bulk of the construction completed in the last month and a half of the semester).

It’s not an original premise, but I don’t feel the opportunities have been explored very thoroughly and I wanted to show people the the potential in converting an existing vehicle.

I also thought it was important to demonstrate the value of full scale iteration in architectural education. There are too many architecture students who don’t understand basic physical limitations of materials or how they can be joined. This project was a way to show how building a small structure with simple detailing can be more valuable than drawing a complex project that is theoretical and poorly understood. I think we need more making in architecture!

There are some great shots of the bus in the posts that document our journey, but the full extent of functionality and flexibility isn’t apparent from just those images. This gallery elaborates on how the space is organized to create an environment that is comfortable, functional, and flexible. More>>>

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Categories: Interviews, Students Projects

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