December 8, 2016 9:55 AM

Award-winning Laney Carpentry Department receives $80k grant for housing initiative

Nicasio Nakmine

Nicasio Nakmine admires a sculpture carved in Laney College’s FabLab.

The Laney College Carpentry Department won an $80,000 grant from the city of Oakland to build two Tiny House prototypes, with an eye to future mass production.

The FabLab is a workshop that features a CNC router (rendered above), five 3-D printers, laser cutters, and more.

Tiny Houses aim to solve homelessness through miniature housing. Matt Wolpe will head this project, along with Marisha Farnsworth. Wolpe is the part-time carpentry instructor who led a team of Laney students last year as it built an award-winning Tiny House called the Wedge.
While the Wedge required four semesters to build, Wolpe and Farnsworth plan to build these prototypes in two semesters. Farnsworth is an architect who teaches digital design. The new Tiny House prototypes will be built by Farnsworth’s Digital Fabrication class in the FabLab and Wolpe’s Carpentry class.
Farnsworth and Wolpe are now working out the designs for the two prototypes. The new Tiny Houses will be slightly smaller than the Wedge. One will have a kitchen; the other will be a simple studio with a bathroom.
Students will use advanced manufacturing techniques, using the CNC (computer numerical control) router and the 3-D printer in the Fab Lab.
While the Wedge was built with more conventional techniques, using stick framing, the new models will be made of four by eight foot panels.
“Like an ice cream sandwich,” says Wolpe. “Wall framing, insulation, and siding; everything’s already in that sandwich, and you plug it in.
“It’s an experiment for us,” he says. “The cool thing is the partnership with the city, to help solve some issues of homelessness.”
CNC cutter

The CNC laser cutter creates a Christmas decoration.

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