Post 4: Identifying and collecting a design example
Studio 804, Inc. is a non-for-profit corporation made up of graduate Architecture, Design and Planning students from the University of Kansas, who are given the opportunity to experience the whole process of designing and constructing a building from the absolute beginning to finish. They focus on researching and designing innovative solutions to issues of housing and environmental sustainability, affordability and energy efficiency, while at the same time ensuring their designs fit in with the urban spaces and allow residents to live a comfortable lifestyle (Architizer n.d.). Their project, 3716 Springfield in Kansas, demonstrates an emergent practice through focusing on the groundwork of sustainable yet stylish architecture.
3716 Springfield was the first platinum LEED house built by Studio 804, Inc., with the aim of addressing the dilemmas of affordable and environmental sustainability, ‘for home-owners seeking “off-the-grid” living in terms of non-renewable energy, while benefiting from the revitalised amenities that compromise the metropolitan urban core’ (Studio 804, Inc. n.d. para. 2). Not only is the designed residence an environmentally sustainable, functional and visually appealing living abode, it also provides tours to those interested in learning about sustainable architecture.
‘This house is a combination of passive strategies and active systems which visually call out the environmental standards to which the design aspires.’ (Archdaily 2011, para. 1)
It is no doubt that a lot of critical thinking has been put into designing and building this residence to make it as modern, comfortable and environmentally sustainable as it could be. Built in the year 2009, at a size of 1000 to 3000 square feet and with a budget of $100,000 to $500,000, Yunghans (2009, para. 2) describes it as managing to ‘integrate features like photovoltaics, a wind turbine, a geothermal heat pump, and radiant floor heat into a minimalist architectural language’. It features four bedrooms with two-and-a-half bathrooms, with an extremely generous master bedroom containing a private two sink bathroom and a walk out balcony. The ground floor has a gallery style kitchen that connects to the dining and living room spaces, and the designers have also added a single car garage and a loft space which can be used however the residents please (Architecture News Plus n.d.).
To ensure the residents are comfortable within the abode, 3716 Springfield has a combination of a concrete thermal mass and a specialised radiant floor system to lower daily temperature fluctuation, with concrete chosen for its ability to absorb winter sunlight. A geothermal heat pump also helps to maintain ‘a comfortable interior air temperature by utilising the stable temperature of the earth’ (Architecture News Plus n.d., para. 7). Windows, sitting close to the ground, allow natural ventilation upwards towards the top of the house, and the louvered shading system allows just the right amount of sunlight to stream into the residence during the day.
In terms of environmental and sustainable features, starting from the land that the residence sits on, the site was planted with durable and drought resistant fescue grass, the intention of it being an easy care replacement for conventional turf, with the south side of the landscape being intentionally left open to ‘encourage the residences to plant a garden’ (Architizer n.d., para. 2). The house has a broad south exposure to ensure the passive solar panels can gain maximum energy throughout the day, along with a wind turbine to back it up; however the residence can also tap into the public utility system when self-generated energy isn’t adequate. Water supply is collected through the pervious materials surrounding the exterior of the house, allowing rainwater to flow into the water table, with low flow valve fixtures running throughout the house to save water and lower reliance on public water sources (Architizer n.d.). A large portion of the design is pre-made in a warehouse studio which allows for their precise standards and features (Yunghans 2009).
Despite the successful integration of sustainable technologies into an aesthetic housing package, according to Apartment Therapy’s survey, the biggest challenge for the residence is selling it, along with the biggest lesson learnt being that sustainable features are too expensive, even though one of Studio 804, Inc. aims is to build affordable, contemporary housing (Yunghans 2009, para. 5). This is something that needs to be addressed if one is to build such a sustainable house as not everyone is able to splurge in technology such as photovoltaics; even though these technologies are expensive, living in a sustainable way shouldn’t have to come at a financial expense.
3716 Springfield: Bathroom n.d., Architizer, viewed 20 March 2016, <http://architizer.com/projects/3716-springfield/media/1028793>.
3716 Springfield: Exterior n.d., Architizer, viewed 20 March 2016, <http://architizer.com/projects/3716-springfield/media/1028787>.
3716 Springfield: Kitchen n.d., Architizer, viewed 20 March 2016, <http://architizer.com/projects/3716-springfield/media/1028789>.
3716 Springfield: Living Room n.d., Architizer, viewed 20 March 2016, <http://architizer.com/projects/3716-springfield/media/1028790>.
3716 Springfield: Long Section and Elevation Section n.d., Studio 804, Inc., viewed 20 March 2016, <http://studio804.com/images/springfield%20-%20sheet%20-%209%20-%20long%20section-elevation-section.jpg?crc=202973452>.
3716 Springfield: Photovoltaics n.d., Architizer, viewed 20 March 2016, <http://architizer.com/projects/3716-springfield/media/1028794>.
3716 Springfield: Upstairs n.d., Architizer, viewed 20 March 2016, <http://architizer.com/projects/3716-springfield/media/1028798>.
Archdaily 2011, Sustainable Residence / Studio 804, viewed 21 August 2016, <http://www.archdaily.com/109267/sustainable-residence-studio-804>.
Architecture News Plus n.d., 3716 Springfield – A Sustainable Residence, viewed 20 August 2016, <http://www.architecturenewsplus.com/projects/134>.
Architizer n.d., 3716 Springfield, New York, viewed 20 August 2016, <http://architizer.com/projects/3716-springfield>.
Architizer n.d., Studio 804, Inc., New York, viewed 20 August 2016, <http://architizer.com/firms/studio-804-inc>.
Studio 804, Inc. n.d., 2009: 3716 Springfield, Kansas, viewed 20 August 2016, <http://studio804.com/2009-3716-springfield.html>.
Yunghans, B. 2009, Studio 804’s Off-the-Grid Modern, Apartment Therapy, New York, viewed August 21 2016, <http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/studio-804s-sustainable-3716-s-94527>.