January 11, 2011
The backyard cottage at DCRP associate professor Karen Chapple's home in the Berkeley flats is a real-life contemporary demonstration of a historic approach to increasing residential density without significantly altering a neighborhood's character.
The concept grew out of a meeting in 2008 between Chapple (who is also faculty director of the Center for Community Innovation; acting director of the Institute for Research on Labor & Employment; and associate director of the Institute for Urban and Regional Development) and a team of students from UC Berkeley civil and environmental engineering professor Ashok Gadgil's "Design for Sustainable Communities" course who were researching how small homes could be used to supply housing that was more affordable and used fewer resources. The final team for Chapple's house included students from the Department of City and Regional Planning, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Haas School of Business. They also worked with the City of Berkeley on permitting issues.
Working with New Avenue Homes, a start-up founded by Haas MBA Kevin Casey ('09), and with additional support from the Clinton Global Initiative, Chapple recently completed her cottage. It is now home to a local firewoman and her daughter. An open house was held on January 8, 2011, to show visitors this vision for the future.
New Avenue Homes hopes to establish itself as a "one-stop shop" for a range of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), constructed as complete packages for fixed prices. The Center for Community Innovation has developed the following fact sheets on Chapple's backyard cottage and ADUs in general:
- Berkeley's Backyard Cottages [.pdf]
- ADUs in the East Bay: Potential & Impact [.pdf]
- Delaware Cottage: Energy Efficiency and Distributed Generation [.pdf]
Chapple is now conducting a study funded by the University of California Transportation Center (UCTC) that examines the feasibility of scaling up the accessory dwelling unit approach in the East Bay, including an examination of how innovative transportation options such as car sharing could contribute to its success. An abstract of this research — TOD, infill housing, and carshare: a feasibility study — can be found at the UCTC website.