Design vs. construction

Hello, my name is Hanbing Liang, and I am a senior landscape architecture and urban planning student at MSU.

March 29, 2016

Hanbing Liang, senior Landscape Architecture and Urban & Regional Planning student paints part of Sparty's Cabin

By: Hanbing Liang

Hello, my name is Hanbing Liang, and I am a senior landscape architecture and urban planning student at MSU. The tiny house project was presented to me at the beginning of the year after I heard from Tiffany [Pupa], the student lead of this project, and I became interested in involving myself in this amazing opportunity.

For the first half of the project, I was working on graphics and information about the Tiny Home–Sparty’s Cabin. After completing in-depth research, I realized that the tiny home concept isn’t just building a small wooden house that has basic living functions, but it is about learning to live as a minimalist, becoming serious about saving energy, and creating a sustainable environment.

The building process started in early March, and after more than three weeks of gaining personal experience with the project, my perception has changed a lot from the beginning. I was definitely looking for some hands on opportunities, but I never expected how hard it would be. As a landscape architecture student, we were involved with construction design and drawings since the second year of school. I was very confused by the time when we were assigned to do a deck design. To be honest, I didn’t even quite understand how joists are actually connected even though I made the drawings. This building experience recalled my memory back then, and finally made it clear to me about what the actual construction looks like.

The first day on-site, we were trying to attach the flashing to the trailer, and the tool we used was a drill. What we have often seen on TV, is professional home builders holding a drill and quickly accomplishing their task. I thought, how hard would that be? When I was actually holding the drill and trying to nail into the trailer, it was quite difficult. The angle you point down should always stay perpendicular as you drill through. The pressure and vibrations from the power will eventually make your hands shake. Although the first day wasn’t on the right track, but it did make me think that construction isn’t as simple as just following directions. It involves challenges throughout the entire process. The plans we draw as landscape architects have a critical part in the project. One wrong measure on paper takes more than a day to correct on site.
Being able to touch, feel and work with all the things I’ve seen on paper is like a class I will never get bored of. The knowledge I have gained from helping with the Sparty's Cabin project has helped me to better understand my field in landscape architecture and my work better.

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