We continue the series featuring the winners of the the 2010 COTE Top Ten Green Projects with this house designed for the Make It Right Foundation to provide storm-resistant, affordable, and sustainable housing options for the residents of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward displaced by Hurricane Katrina. To support Make It Right's goal of building 150 homes in the Lower Ninth Ward, this single-family home is poised for mass production, anticipating a shift from on-site to off-site fabrication as more homes are scheduled for construction.
Recognizing that the intention is to build multiple houses over time, the design challenge was to create a prototype that can be customized easily and inexpensively with various floor plans, material options, and environmental systems to satisfy a range of conditions and desires. This approach does more than provide shelter; it is essential for rebuilding a neighborhood of individual homes. Local off-site fabrication has the benefit of helping attain economic sustainability in the region.
Most important was to create a design that could outperform the typical American home in energy performance and health through the efficient application of better insulation, efficient systems, and non-toxic materials, rather than through the addition of complex and expensive environmental technologies. The Special No. 9 House achieved a LEED Platinum rating with this approach.
Key goals were to create safe, healthy and dignified housing to residents in a flood-prone area, and to empower residents to return to improved living conditions that take advantage of New Orleans' climate and express its deep cultural heritage.
The core design has two main options: a Garden prototype that includes a roof deck, sunscreens, and mesh trellis; and a Gable prototype that includes sunscreens, slatted trellis, and an area of refuge. The chassis is the same for both options, with many sub-options for materials, systems, and aesthetics.
To achieve flexibility, floor plans consolidate "dry" and "wet" spaces into zones. Plumbing systems are consolidated into a linear cluster of "wet" rooms that facilitate choice in the quantity and arrangement of these spaces. These spaces are treated as modules that can be selected, grouped, and ultimately fabricated as individual assemblies that make up a whole.
Similarly, the quantities and types of "dry" living spaces can be grouped linearly in arrangements that are limited mainly by the length of the site. Variations to the exterior fit-out, including PV panels, sunscreens, storage, and rainwater harvesting allow the house to accommodate a range of homeowners. Options for railing filigree as well as color and trim allow the houses to be fully personalized.
Bounded by natural and man-made features (lakefront, canals, rail lines, and highways) and sequestered through industrial zoning, the Lower Ninth Ward developed as an enclave away from the heart of the city, overlooked by the municipality. There iscurrently only one bus line connecting it to the city. The project focuses on rebuilding the neighborhood so that as more residents return to the area, it will no longer be ignored in the overall vision for New Orleans. As transportation infrastructure is rebuilt, inclusive transportation such as bus and light rail could link the Lower Ninth Ward more vitally to city. Mixed use zoning policies that would balance existing nearby industrial sectors with new commercial and civic districts could also strengthen their unique neighborhood identities. In this regard, the project is a generator of connectivity over the long term.
The Make It Right project is an example of a process for urban development in which local, neighborhood-led coalitions have a significant stake. Preserving the sensibility of small-town cohesion that characterized New Orleans’ neighborhoods pre-Katrina is critical to their short-term determination to build but also their long-term prospect of self-empowerment. In this regard the project engenders community connectivity.
* Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
* Building type(s): Single-family residential, Community
* 1,520 ft2 (141 m2)
* Project scope: a single building
* Urban setting
* Completed September 2008
* Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED for Homes v.1 --Level: Platinum