The Home House project: The future of Affordable housing

Last year when I was completing my literature and contextual review I was looking at affordable housing solution. As I needed to look at 5 books, 5 journals, 5 websites and so on I ordered a book of Amazon called The Home house project by Steve Badanes, David J.Brown, Ben Nicholson and Michael Sorkin. I completed my review last year, but after picking up the book again this year, I thought I would share some of my thoughts and inspirations.

Many people have participated in the home house project which was a competition launched by the Southern Centre for Contemporary Arts (SECCA) in 2003. They had a great response to the competition which challenged designers and architects to develop new and unique solutions for affordable, family homes.

The objectives of the project where to “1) to provide inspired design in the affordable housing market for those who historically have been omitted from enjoying its benefits; 2) to establish a new national housing model in terms of design, energy efficiency, environmental consciousness, and cost effectiveness that can change the stigma attached to affordable housing throughout the United States; 3) to showcase the most recent advances in sustainable design and 4) to foster new partnerships with people, organizations and communities across the United States involved in the creative applications of affordable design.”

Within the book they have published 25 Awards of Merit, who were selected by the jurors Steve Badanes, Ben Nicolson and Michal Sorkin. I have had a look through the 25 selected projects and here are my favourites:

Dog Trot House: Jim Fox, Leslie Ford, Marcus Bushong, Geoffrey Adams, Karen King

This house inspired me because of the shipping containers that were used as part of the design. The team from the University of New Mexico used two 40’ x 8’ x 8.5’ shipping containers, separated by a central space to develop the house. The house was split into sections with one container being the kitchen, bathroom, utility room and the other container being the bedroom wing. The central space which has two glazed elevations then formed the living space.

I really liked this design, mainly due to the re-use of shipping containers as I have always had a fondness of these structures. I also believe the structure would become quite flexible and you could easily stack and add more shipping containers at a later date.

Dockable Dwelling: Matias Cremier

This was a design that was built up from several different modules, allowing the purchaser to add and remove modules as and when they pleased. Matias had created 7 different modules that where all of a different size, style and shape. Borrowing ‘NASA’s’ approach to space station docking, these modules could easily be connected.

These modules are also fully developed off site in a factory environment, and once completed all that needs doing on site is level up the site, plug the modules together and leave. These few on site steps make the whole process very easy and also help to reduce costs. I believe this off site construction is feasible because the modules are quite small, so they can easily be transported to site.

Because the house in made up from several modules it can be easily adding to and change depending on the needs of the family. The designer also stated he wanted to encourage the owners to sell their used modules to others instead of destroying them. But at the end of their lifecycle it is possible that the modules could be absorbed by the automotive recycling industry.

Fab Tree Hab: Mitchell Joachim, Lara Greden, Javier Arbona

This design really caught my eye as it’s not usually the style that inspires and interests me. But I found this design for a single family home very interesting. The whole design is supported and designed to fit around tree-trunks. Another interesting point of this design is that they have gone back into time and used ancient and new methodology to create the design. With this they have used a ‘Pleaching’ method, which used tree branches to form living archways, lattices and screens. On the exterior of the design they have also weaved in a dense layer of vines for protection, which are also intercepted with soil pockets and growing plants. On the interior walls a clay and straw composite insulates and blocks moisture and then a final layer of clay is applied to form a plaster.

The whole house accommodates three bedrooms, one being on a second level, a bathroom and a open plan living, dining and kitchen area. I personally wouldn’t want to live in a house like this, but I do think it makes a very interesting design.

Here are a few of the winners that stood out to me, but my ultimate favourite and one that I find relates to my current thinking methods and practice work will be published in a spate post very soon, so watch this space.

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