As part of our ongoing research to better understand the barriers to equitable housing access in our community, Rural Studio students have designed and built numerous affordable prototype houses over the years.
We’ve been working iteratively to develop dozens of prototypes on the ground in Hale County. The following are just a few of the critical lessons that we have learned along the way.
First and foremost, it is essential that a house be designed to be durable, buildable, weatherproof, and secure.
But as important as these basic criteria are, they are just the minimum of requirements. We have also found it to be equally important that a house should be designed to be aspirational as well.
1) A house should directly express a sense of presence and dignity for the homeowner.
2) A house should intentionally foster a sense of community and engagement in its design.
3) A house should actively contribute to the health and wellbeing of those that live in the homes, as well as for those that build the homes.
4) A house should provide opportunities to both age in place with dignity, as well as shelter in place in safety.
And finally, even though our houses are intended for local people, and built with local materials, and with local labor and know-how, above all else,
5) A house must be well crafted.
But knowing these essential criteria is not enough. It is what we do once we know them that matters most. However, the gulf between knowing effective strategies and implementing them is enormous. In medical research, this is often referred to as the “Know-Do Gap,” and we have found it to similarly exist in architectural research as well. In our next post we will outline some of the implementation strategies and communication products that the Front Porch team has developed to begin to narrow this gap between what we know, and what we do.