Builders for Babies


HomeAid OC is a non-profit organization that builds and renovates shelters for those in Orange County who find themselves homeless due to sudden job loss, catastrophic illness, spousal desertion, and domestic violence. It aims to end homelessness. As part of its efforts, HomeAid hosts its annual Builders for Babies Diaper Drive event in support of families experiencing homelessness in Southern California. 10 homebuilders will construct tiny houses made out of diaper boxes in a friendly competition to bring awareness to the growing need families have for diapers, wipes and other essential baby items. Michael Schrock, one of our co-founders, has been an active member of HomeAid for many years. Urban Arena helped in designing their Care Center here in Orange County.

John Gilchrist and Roland Salazar represented UA at this event in collaboration with William Lyon Homes. Here is some insight on the process and design of the Upside Down House to tie in to the Alice in Wonderland theme.

Give us a brief history of Builders for Babies and their Diaper Drive event, and Urban Arena’s involvement.

This event has been created to help bring awareness to the growing issue of the Orange County Homelessness.  The event brings together home builders, architects, and contractors to combine their resources and create whimsical structures with donated building materials.  The primary building blocks are the donated diaper boxes.  Awards and accolades are presented to the best house design, landscape design and overall theme. 

The event was started in 2015 and Urban Arena has participated in all 5 years as the primary diaper house designers for William Lyon Homes.  Our office has been involved with everything from the design process, theme and assisting in vendor donations to bring the structure to fruition. Past years structures have been a Castle, Tiki Hut, Farmers Barn, Candyland House and this year’s Diaper House was Alice in Wonderland Tea Party.  Thank you to all who donated their time, efforts and products to this fun and worthy cause.

What was the inspiration for the design for this year, and how was it collaborating with others to build it?

The theme was The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party from Alice and Wonderland, so we decided to do a very whimsical house design.  John found an image of a house “Topsey-Turvey” (framed upside down) so we ran with that concept.  It gave the theme some credibility.  Next was to figure out how to frame it so visitors can enter the structure. We had a great time working with the builders to make this wild idea come to life. Getting some vendors on board to donate materials was also a great help to make it a fully immersive experience.

What are some unique things about the design?

The house was on it’s roof which became the floor so we needed to frame a platform sturdy enough to handle some live load and keep the structure light to maintain the 45 degree angle it was sitting at.  We decided on 2×3 wood members with ¼” plywood sheathing and added the Kerdi-board as cladding.  The board is water resistant and light.  But very strong.  It’s bright orange color made it visually appealing.  The contractors did a great job building the house and the 3D images that John created really helped them visualize what our design intent was headed. 

Special Shoutout to the following people/companies we collaborated with:

Tami Nicholson-Bowers & Clay Vaught, William Lyon Homes

Mary Yocum, Dave Stiles, & Jess Stiles, Schluter Systems

Randall Richards, Reliable Wholesale Lumber

Fabrice Spies, SoCal Building Solutions

Davide Aternino, Mouldex Mouldings

Jessica Nunes, Objekt Designs

Dean Dix & Dennis Hall, Davis Development Company, Inc.

Village Nurseries

Some cool 360 images below:

Urban Arena
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