The ProtoHaus is a tiny dwelling of 125 square feet. In the interest of exploring the boundaries that define art objects, non-art objects, and social issues related to home ownership, ProtoHaus will challenge viewer, artist and artwork. Contemporary artists such as Andrea Zittel, Shinique Smith, Tyree Guyton, and groups such as Futurefarmers, and N55 are similarly dealing with issues of consumerism, social equality, the intersection of art and design, and the limits of artistic definition. In the history of art these are not new themes; the Russian Constructivists, the Bauhaus, and the Wiener Werkstätte all dealt with these issues. William Morris argued that art should meet the needs of society and that there should be no distinction between form and function. Even Michelangelo and Da Vinci acted not only as visual artists but also as scientists, writers, inventors and architects. These artists contributed to their communities by producing inspirational works of art as well as through military defense and technological advancement.
ProtoHaus is a timber frame or “stick built” house that was constructed over the summer of 2009. Emphasis was placed on sustainability, functionality, and aesthetics. It is fabricated primarily from recycled and reclaimed materials. The building process was overseen and assisted by S. C. Holley Construction. It is transportable. The house is built on a trailer bed rated to withstand 14,000 pounds. Separate fresh, grey, and black water systems are integrated into the design allowing for remote removal and disposal of waste. A solar and wind system power the house allowing it to be off grid. Over the academic year 2009-2010 there were a series of collaborative workshops at Alfred University which included students, faculty and different departments to accompany the project. The house was open to visitors on particular dates throughout the school year as a mode of sharing the experiment with the Alfred community. We continue to invite visitors interested in the small house movement to come and tour ProtoHaus and ProtoStoga in an effort to share our experience.