Despite architects being bad at business and social skills, we do have a soft spot for good causes. The Make It Right organization represented by Brad Pitt is definitely one of those causes.
The strategy for rebuilding the homes affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward has been to persuade some of the biggest names in the architectural world (“starchitects” if I may) as well as local architectural firms to design appropriate homes for this locale. It definitely has been argued whether or not these homes are appropriate for their site, but they’re definitely better than what Katrina left behind. But there is one aspect of most of these designs that really bothers me–the lack of connection between the living area and the ground. The living area is of course the interior of the house (the life of the private residence), and the ground is the street (the life of the public domain).
Despite the style of the home, most have a simple stair connecting the living area and the ground. (You can view the built homes here.) And by simple stair I mean something that you’d find at a hotel along the interstate. (There are exceptions, but the majority of these homes have what’s essentially a stair better suited for a fire escape.)
So instead of complaining about it and offering nothing to solve it, I designed a house that I feel makes a better connection. The stair has to halves–one half to allow for normal circulation between the ground and the house, and the other half to provide a space to sit comfortably and to extend the yard up to the level of the house (as shown with planters). As the “circulation” stair has a rise of 6-inches and a run of 12-inches, the “destination” stair has a rise of 18-inches and a run of 36-inches.
Due to the fact that New Orleans is technically below sea level (which isn’t a good thing when it’s only miles away from the sea), the house has to be raised to protect its inhabitants from future storms. But the house has to be designed to function as a part of a community.
The house itself is modest in size with a strong connection between interior spaces and the exterior.
(FYI: I am still playing with the rendering for this design, so please excuse the rudimentary renderings.)