COHO | Nickelsville Kitchen Design Project

Image: Rendering of the structures COHO has designed and will build for the Nickelsville Northlake village.

Imagine having an apartment or a home without a kitchen.  For some, kitchens sound like a basic need, but for many they are a luxury.  Many of our unhoused neighbors live without a kitchen, and even those in transitional housing, such as tiny house villages, do not have access to a comfortable cooking space.  AIA Seattle’s Committee on Homelessness (COHO) is partnering with Nickelsville, Seattle’s only self-managed tiny house village, to design, fund, and build a kitchenette and gathering shelter.  Nickelsville is asking for your donations in order to make this important addition to their village a reality!  How often do you get the chance to expand access to one of life’s simple joys and necessities? Donate below and make a difference.

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Image: Floor plan of the structures COHO has designed and will build for the Nickelsville Northlake village.

While tiny house villages are great homes for those who would otherwise be unhoused, the tiny house villages only provide the bare essentials for a home: sleeping accommodations; bathroom and shower facilities; and sometimes makeshift areas for preparing and eating food. The Nickelsville Northlake village’s current food preparation area is an open metal canopy with tarps as a roof. There are no walls, no doors, and no waterproofing. The residents have lived with this situation for many years and are in dire need of an upgrade.  In fact, it was heavily damaged in November 2023 during a windstorm. COHO hopes that this project proves everyone deserves a warm, safe, and inviting kitchen and gathering structure, allowing residents the opportunity to maintain and develop some of life’s most important skills: cooking and creating community.

Image: The current kitchen condition at the Nickelsville Northlake village.


Images: The damage done by the November 2023 windstorm. Nickelsville has since patched the hole up, but the matter remains that this structure is not stable for long term use.

This project has the opportunity to become a prototype for a vital addition to tiny house villages in our region.  The design is modular and can be moved with the other components of the tiny house village.  By providing a structure specifically designed for food preparation and gathering, this project gives tiny house village residents the opportunity to cook and socialize in a manner similar to those in traditional homes.  Also, cooking in an established structure as opposed to a makeshift one greatly reduces the risk of fires, which can, of course, happen while cooking.  


The AIA Seattle Committee on Homelessness (COHO) mobilizes architects to help our unsheltered neighbors through the areas of advocacy, education, and service. We are architects, professionals, and concerned citizens who believe that the Seattle region’s homelessness crisis demands immediate action. We aim to use our knowledge of design, construction, and the urban environment to help those who are unsheltered or lack housing security.

Nickelsville is a self-managed organization with two tiny house villages in Seattle. The residents, whom call themselves Nickelodeons, decide together who lives in the village, attend weekly meetings to discuss events, updates for the villages, or issues within the organization, and advocate for policies to address homelessness in the region. They are very active within the community and cared for by their neighbors. You can find out more about their organization at

Nickelsville approached COHO in early 2023 with the idea of collaborating together to replace their existing kitchen structure.  COHO has taken on the challenge, and in the second half of 2023 met twice a month to develop a design, prepare questions, ideas and images for the Nickelsville community, and to incorporate their feedback.

The following are quotes from residents of Nickelsville Northlake:

  • “Nickelodeons find it difficult to cook during inclement weather, especially during Seattle’s rainy windy days. We also use our kitchen as a meeting space. As you can imagine, this becomes much harder during summer’s hot days. People often find themselves unable to pay attention and remember topics discussed during frigid, windy and wet days of winter.”
    – Debra (House #9) 
  • “We use a microwave and toaster to cook in a cold and leaky tent for a kitchen. Not enough appliances. We need a warm and usable kitchen.”
    – Charlie (House #16) 
  • I look forward to the benefits of a full-size oven and cooking indoors out of the weather. This will improve health through better nutrition and peace of mind. Thank you for helping us improve our living conditions.”
    – Mark (House #19)

Image: A presentation meeting with COHO and Nickelsville to choose the final design for the structure configuration.

COHO is partnering with JAS Design Build.  Please show that you believe everyone deserves a place to cook and establish community by donating to this project.