Launch Slideshow

project: house mates

project: house mates

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    Brett Zamore Design

    Brett Zamore's design for the Parker family streamlines the exterior and omits overhangs to prevent uplift during high winds.

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    Chung Nguyen, AIA

    Houston-based Chung Nguyen designed a bungalow-style house that appealed to two families in the program. For the Tran family residence, he enlarged the wraparound porch, which was inspired by an improvised outdoor space Mr. Tran had added to his FEMA trai

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    Studio Gang Architects

    Jeanne Gang worked hard to integrate shutters - a program requirement - into her design. The resulting Pinecone house is so called because of numerous operable shutters that shade and secure the structure.

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    Studio Gang Architects

Design professionals agree that rebuilding in the Gulf Coast region is frustrating. Despite soaring construction costs and insurance premiums, elusive government funding, and inscrutable building codes—or perhaps because of them—the nonprofit Architecture for Humanity (AFH) launched the Biloxi Model Home Program. AFH invited a dozen architects to create affordable, sustainable, and weather-resistant single-family house prototypes and showcased the results at a House Fair in East Biloxi, Miss., last August. Select families left homeless by Katrina were then given the opportunity to choose the prototypes they'd like the architects to adapt and build as their new residences.

“You have to figure out the best way to build it, make it energy-efficient, and reduce the cost of upkeep,” says Brett Zamore of Houston's Brett Zamore Design, a program volunteer. “But design was the most important part—making the house feel connected to the landscape and other houses.” New structures must sit anywhere from six feet to 12 feet above grade, so generating those physical and social ties was tricky. Mississippi's endemic heat, humidity, and thriving insect population, plus a construction budget of just $100 per square foot, further complicated matters.

Another participating architect, Jeanne Gang, AIA, describes her first encounter with a Gulf Coast summer as “a hit in the head.” As a consequence, the principal and founder of Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects decided to study the local environment first and let the design evolve from there. “We looked at vernacular models that showed how people in this climate lived without air conditioning,” she says. Other commonsense strategies such as shading and proper solar orientation go a long way toward satisfying program goals.

And yet those height requirements were the biggest problem to overcome—both practically and aesthetically. Zamore's house for the Parker family was the first home in the program to be dedicated, on June 20. It rests six feet above grade, so Zamore kept the building's scale modest and further mitigated its top-heaviness by placing the driveway to one side instead of underneath. Gang, meanwhile, faced a dizzying 12-foot lift for her house. She countered with spacious landings for the front stairs and shallow risers to ease the climb. A shady deck area underneath the building provides street-level social space.

Despite their varied backgrounds, approaches, and solutions, all of the Model Home architects and their clients were thrilled to see progress—on the boards, in the works, and on the ground.

Read about Jeanne Gang receiving the MacArthur fellowship in our sister publication, Architect.  


rethinking, renewing, rebuilding

special report on rebuilding the gulf coast two years after katrina's devastation.

  • cover story: after the storm

    In this report, we've endeavored to illuminate the good and the bad, the true signs of hope and the harsh realities of its absence. Over and over, Gulf Coast architects emphasize that people around the country need to know what's really going on in this still-devastated but still-compelling area.

     
  • project: cottage industry

    When 170-some New Urbanists convened the Mississippi Renewal Forum in Biloxi, Miss., to brainstorm the Gulf Coast reconstruction, they knew it would be a long row to hoe. Two years and dozens of charrettes later, work is still under way to rewrite planning codes that support thoughtful, mixed-use...

     
  • project: upwardly mobile

    After working in private practice for nine years, architect Michael A. Berk shifted gears in 1990 to become a professor and researcher. His new pursuit ultimately led him to explore affordable and ecologically based factory-built housing in the rural Southeast and Delta regions, where the dynamics...

     
  • profile: marcel wisznia, aia

    When people talk about good things happening in downtown New Orleans, the name Marcel Wisznia, AIA, tends to come up. That's because this local architect/developer has completed one of the few projects built there since Hurricane Katrina—The Union Lofts, a mixed-use renovation in the Central...

     
  • profile: wayne troyer, aia

    In the weeks after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans architect Wayne Troyer, AIA, bounced between friends' houses in Alabama and Louisiana. All the while, he frantically awaited the latest news of his home city. “I e-mailed like crazy ... we were all trying to regain our sanity,” he recalls. When he...

     
  • profile: byron mouton, aia

    Byron Mouton, AIA, never intended to stay in his hometown of New Orleans. He left for graduate school at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., then worked in Europe for a couple of years. On his way to San Francisco for a job interview in 1997, he stopped to see his family in the Crescent City and stayed...