APLA Faculty Publish Second Book on Design

Designed for Habitat: New Directions for Habitat for Humanity book

Back in 2012, David Hinson and Justin Miller published Designed for Habitat: Collaborations with Habitat for Humanity.

Now, over a decade later, they’ve published the second edition, Designed for Habitat: New Directions for Habitat for Humanity. The second book contains 12 new projects, which “reflect new approaches to building scale, construction technology, and design and context.”

Unveiling the Impact of Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity was founded by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976 and emerged with a vision to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live. The organization operates at a local level through independent affiliates, each striving to provide affordable housing to families in need. Their impactful work has made Habitat for Humanity the largest nonprofit housing builder and developer in the United States. Auburn University’s collaboration with Habitat for Humanity began in 2001 when the school received a call from Design Alabama, an offshoot of the Alabama State Council for the Arts. This connection initiated a long-running partnership that would have a lasting impact on the design of Habitat homes in the state. “Through this collaboration, we’ve been able to achieve significant milestones in energy performance for Habitat homes, setting precedents like the first Energy Star and Passive House-certified homes in Alabama,” stated Miller.

Authors Hinson and Miller are both esteemed professors in Auburn University’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction (CADC). With a combined experience of over 40 years in faculty roles, their dedication to design education and expertise is evident. Hinson is CADC’s Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research and has taught across the entire architecture curriculum over the past 26 years. Miller, the Head of the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture (APLA) and a professor in the Architecture program, has taught across programs within the school over the past 16 years.

Almost a decade ago, Hinson and Miller began working on the first book, Designed for Habitat: Collaborations with Habitat for Humanity, which emphasized the value of process storytelling. Hinson explained, “We intentionally focused on telling the story of how projects came to be, a unique approach compared to typical design-focused books.” Miller also highlighted the impact of these collaborations, stating, “Architects involved in Habitat projects have brought significant value beyond transactional partnerships. This, in turn, empowered affiliates to access new opportunities in communities they once struggled to reach.”

The Second Book—Embracing New Directions

In late 2019, their publisher, Routledge, approached Hinson and Miller about a follow-up book on the same topic. Published in summer 2023, Designed for Habitat: New Directions for Habitat for Humanity focuses on a number of new directions in which affiliates may serve their service population. The projects profiled in the book range from Habitat’s traditional single-family typology to row homes, townhomes and micro-housing; and involve complex partnerships between the affiliates and public agencies, for-profit developers and energy providers.

Moreover, the current edition shows a “real stretching by affiliates” in terms of the scale and scope of the projects they’ve previously done. “We wanted to share stories of success and encouragement with the nonprofit housing community and architects,” stated Hinson. As time passed, Habitat for Humanity faced new challenges in the affordable housing landscape. Rising land values and changing constraints prompted affiliates to build various housing typologies, demanding increased engagement with professional architects. Both authors are keen to emphasize the substantial impact of Habitat for Humanity on the housing landscape. Hinson remarked, “The culture of Habitat has evolved considerably over the decade between the first and second books. As affiliates pursue more complex building types and pursue more ambitious energy performance goals they’re working with architects more frequently. Both books were designed to inspire architects and Habitat affiliates alike, showcasing the immense potential of collaboration.

Hinson and Miller’s work is intrinsically linked to Auburn University’s culture of community engagement. “The university’s support has been instrumental in facilitating our book projects through grants and research assistance from dedicated students,” Hinson stated. Their success serves as a testament to the value of community engagement, proving that passion for outreach and community engagement can lead to scholarly achievements such as book publications. Reflecting on their journey, Hinson and Miller hope to inspire more Auburn faculty members to follow a similar path. “We hope younger faculty will see this as a roadmap to leverage their passion for community engagement into meaningful scholarly work,” Hinson emphasizes. When asked about future writing plans, Miller noted, “The landscape of designing for affordable housing is constantly evolving. Sharing stories of success and encouragement will remain crucial.”

Related people:
David Hinson, Justin Miller