August 8, 2019

Playhouses, Doghouses, and Birdhouses for the Community

Gillian Panigot, Andrews University News

An auction of items constructed during the Renaissance Kids “Compelling Dwellings” architecture camp at Andrews University (AU) took place on Sunday, August 4, 2019, to benefit the ministry “Tiny Houses for Big Change.”

The auction was held at the AU Architecture building on the campus in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States campus.

Playhouses, doghouses, birdhouses, and artwork — all designed and produced by children — were put up for auction. A few local artists donated works, and the nearby Whirlpool appliance company donated appliances. A stainless steel refrigerator, range, dishwasher, and microwave as well as a red stand mixer and other small appliances were open to bidders.

Attendees enjoyed refreshments throughout the event, and live music was provided by Aiden Schnell, who has participated in previous Renaissance Kids architecture camps, with his father, Bill Schnell, and AU professor Dennis Waite.

“Tiny Houses for Big Change,” a ministry of the Benton Harbor Saint Augustine’s Episcopal Church youth group, has raised more than US$35,000 to build a tiny house for a person in need. Those ministry efforts are significantly strengthened by the money raised at the August 4 auction. Harbor Habitat for Humanity is committed to donating the plot of land to build the house. Other partnering organizations such as the Interfaith Action Alliance, area churches, and the AU School of Architecture and Interior Design have also provided support.

Students in the AU architecture program have designed ten tiny house plans, and the 2020 design-and-build class is ready to construct the house when funds are available.

“Renaissance Kids’ goals are to empower kids to believe they can make a positive impact in their communities and to work together to solve problems,” said Mark Moreno, founder/director of Renaissance Kids and associate professor in the AU School of Architecture and Interior Design. “We are grateful that so many people and organizations have come together with kids to fulfill an idea that originally came from them.”

This summer marked the 13th annual AU School of Architecture and Interior Design Renaissance Kids architecture camp. The “Compelling Dwellings” theme provided children and teens ages 5–16, in four different age groups, the opportunity to engage in fun, creative, and educational hands-on projects associated with architecture.

Renaissance Kids began in 2007 with a goal of “building with kids to build kids up.” According to its leaders, it aspires to make complex ideas accessible to young minds by providing tools for them to better understand the relationship between people and the physical world.

The original version of this story was posted on the Andrews University news site.