Architectural Design Students Create Sustainable Low-Income Homes

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Sustainability has quickly become one of the hottest architectural design trends in recent years. This is largely due to increased awareness of environmental issues like global warming and the adoption of an eco-conscious mindset around the world.

What is sustainable architecture?

Sustainable architecture is typically defined as the creation of buildings that focus on minimizing the negative environmental impact by maximizing efficiency and consuming only renewable resources throughout the design, construction and operation processes. However, for these sustainable homes, the focus is not only on environmentally friendly materials but also ensuring that they are sustainable for those who live in them.

Sustainable architecture in action.

Students at Auburn University’s Rural Studio began an initiative to prove that style and design need not be compromised in the creation of affordable, sustainable homes. The 20K Project, which got its start in 2005, aims to solve the need for low-income housing in rural Hale County, AL., provide an alternative to mobile homes and accommodate those who are unable to qualify for a loan. For students, the objective was to design and build a model home that could be built for $20,000 and reproduced on a large scale by a contractor.

Although the homes are modest, featuring a single bedroom, living area, kitchen and bathroom, they provide low-income individuals and families a sense of independence that wasn’t possible under their previous living arrangements. Each home measures about 500 square feet and is constructed of timber and corrugated metal. In an effort to keep utility costs low, they are also elevated off the ground to take advantage of passive heating and cooling. So far, students have designed seventeen different versions of their sustainable home which costs about $12,000 for materials and $8,000 in contracted labor and profit.

You can learn more about Rural Studio and the 20K Project at their respective websites.

If you’re in need of an architecture firm for your sustainable project, look no further than SH Architecture. Founded in 1985, we’re focused on creating sustainable, solutions-driven and client-centered architecture. Contact us today.

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One Comment

  • John says:

    As the years go on, it seems like the emphasis on sustainable living and construction is going to continue growing. With sustainable construction becoming more widely available and affordable, it’s hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to save both money and the planet by building green. Thanks for posting.

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