Inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s words ‘Our beds are empty two-thirds of the time. Our living rooms are empty seven-eighths of the time. Our office buildings are empty one-half of the time. It’s time we gave this some thought’, Cook+Fox Architects have completed a remarkable small-scale project in Syracuse, New York.
Entitled ‘Live Work Home’, the project looks to combat the high unemployment rates and lack of space available to the creative industries in the local area through flexible architectural units, injecting a hit of intelligent design into a community in dire need of reenergising.
The first volume in the programme was completed last year and has just been awarded LEED-NC (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction) Platinum certification, the highest possible rating by the United States Green Building Council.
Also taken by the notions of healthy living and the ‘innate human need to connect with the natural world’, Cook+Fox Architects inserted a custom-made perforated screen system onto the western and northern sides of the building to filter light into a dappled pattern reminiscent of the sun’s rays through a tree canopy.
This screen also incorporates a large, garage-style front door which can be folded down to create an indoor/outdoor space similar to a front porch. Light also enters the volume through skylight tubes which penetrate the roof and the entire building unit is specifically angled to maximise solar exposure.
As part of the architects’ mission to encourage residents to stay longer in the community, maximum flexibility has been enabled through the exploration of linear archetypes. Great possibilities are afforded for the extension of the Live Work Home structures, offering long-term operational affordability and encouraging intergenerational living.
Much consideration has also been placed on the eco-aspects of the design, with a high performance building envelope constructed of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) which save energy, improve comfort and reduce construction waste and ongoing costs of ownership.
During the construction process the team reused many materials repossessed from the demolition of the existing house on the site and old-growth pine and hemlock were salvaged and repurposed into the floors and cabinets.
In conclusion, Cook+Fox Architects explain: “Local non-profit Home HeadQuarters managed the construction process, which included training for a team of construction apprentices, cultivating a workforce for future sustainable building projects, and creating much-needed green-collar jobs.
“Homeowners John and Kathy Miranda moved into the home in November 2010 with the intention to fulfil the home’s flexible layout to house an environmental consulting business, a small office space, and personal living space for the couple.”