I’ve often talked about how important it is for our higher education institutes to interact with the landscape of the city, outside of their own campuses. A recent article in UBNow spotlights the perfect example of how education-driven class projects can have an even wider impact on Buffalo neighborhoods. It all started when UB architecture/design students were tasked with designing and building a 4-by-4-by-4 structure that could be heated solely by the energy of the sun. The structures were theoretically planned as shelters for artists to paint and sketch. Once the course was over, the tiny shelters would be torn apart and dumped (recycled, trashed, and/or reused).
The thought of wasting upwards of ten of these completed shelters seemed to be… well… a waste, which is why one of the students proposed that he find a home for his future creation. It was Senior Matthew Straub who felt that there should be a better and higher use for his work, and possibly the work of the other students. After dedicating so much time and effort to come up with a practical shelter, surely someone else could benefit from all that work?
Straub ended up reaching out to the University Heights Collaborative, where it was decided the structure would be used for a community garden. Joe Kurtz, manager of the organization’s Tyler Street Community Garden, then proposed that the rest of the sheds be donated to Grassroots Gardens. That’s when faculty member Martha Bohm (the instructor of the course) threw her hat into the ring, and the idea of the shelters as “seed huts” was born. With the help of a Pitch 10 grant, ten of the huts are now being offered to community and school gardens, thanks to the teamwork of UB and Grassroots Gardens.
Lead image courtesy UB