AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Special No. 9 House

Completed House
Photo credit: John C. Williams Architects

Overview

  • 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

The Special No. 9 House was 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.

Environmental Aspects

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.

Our 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.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned by Individual(s)
  • Occupants: Individual(s)
  • Typically occupied by 2 people

Keywords

Green specifications, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Water harvesting, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Massing and orientation, Glazing, On-site renewable electricity, Adaptable design, Durability, Benign materials, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Ventilation effectiveness, Thermal comfort, Low-emitting materials

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Last updated: 4/19/2010

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

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