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GIMME SHELTER - USC Looking into options at Joshua Tree National Park - an update


Tiny Homes for Seasonal Rangers in Joshua Tree National Park

The Faculty and students on the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California are investigating the potential of precast concrete to provide a shelter for seasonal park rangers in the extreme climate of Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree has a severe housing shortage. The National Park employs part-time rangers who sign up for four-month appointments and have modest requirement for housing. However, the climate of Joshua Tree National Park is challenging. Summer temperatures routinely exceed 100 degrees and can reach 120 degrees. There is almost no shade, and no water or power resources inside the park.

We hope to be able to design, fabricate and install a prototype tiny home that can provide thermal comfort for the seasonal rangers. We are calling this home a “Pocket Lodge” in the spirit of the Park Service and the tiny size (about 200 square feet of interior space).

Precast concrete is a good candidate material considering its high thermal mass and exceptional speed of construction with modest site disturbance and off-site prefabrication.

Early thermal simulations indicated that the design will be challenging, but it may be possible.

Karen M. Kensek

Douglas Noble

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