The 100-Year-Home

Since returning from spring break we have been quarantining here in Greensboro and working on our project documentation to pass off to the next generation of Rural Studio students who will pick up where we left off and continue the work of designing and building affordable homes for the rural south. In addition to the technical documentation drawings, we put together documentation summarizing the ideals of our project and the thinking behind the design decisions:

The “100-Year Home” is a model for housing affordability in rural areas of the Southeastern United States.  The design’s goal is to create a durable, buildable, and efficient home within a tight budget. The home provides a framework for expansion and adaptation over time, allowing the home to be modified by its occupants as their family’s needs change and as the home is passed down through generations – becoming a vehicle for wealth creation. 

The home is designed in response to the specific conditions of the rural Southeast. This region is heavily impoverished, with limited access to resources or means for economic mobility. Due to the area’s economic, cultural, and geographical conditions, residents tend to form “kinship clusters” whereby members of an extended family live in close proximity, either in a series of small structures, or by adding to a home over time. This additive strategy results in sprawling homes, occupied by a large extended family that allows the family to share resources and live within a tight-knit support network. The major issue with these expanding homes is that to expand upon an existing structure (typically with a pitched roof and raised floor) the family must tie into the existing floor and roof structure. These connection points prove problematic over time as water penetrates the structure and begins to deteriorate the home from the inside. 

Our goal with this project is to provide a framework for this type of incremental expansion and adaptation over time as the family grows and changes. The strategy is straightforward: we provide a big, independently supported roof and a big slab with a simple one-bedroom home underneath. As the needs of the family change, the partitions underneath the roof can be added and subtracted at will without compromising the water-tightness or structural integrity of the building.