Eco Modern Flats is a sustainable modern design renovation—the first LEED for Homes Multifamily Platinum project in the state of Arkansas—of an existing 96-unit apartment complex.The socially responsible success of this project is summarized by making sustainable, attainable. The four existing apartment buildings, constructed between 1968 and 1972, have great bones of precast concrete and split face block, but were drastically lacking in thermal comfort, air quality and aesthetic appeal. The stasis of the existing apartments combined with the residual disconnects from the inherent site amenities required our thoughtful intervention of low-tech and affordable design solutions. The communicative and decidedly simple design has reinvented this property as a sustainable living community ideally located adjacent to the University of Arkansas, Dickson Street Entertainment District and Downtown Fayetteville.
The renovation completely overhauled the living systems of each unit and transformed the entire complex’s visual presence in the community.The existing topography and forgotten residual spaces between the buildings were utilized to create various courtyard spaces as well as public and private terraces, patios, and rooftop decks. The design provides new connections to the re-integrated and re-imagined landscape of the site, elevating the greater community and local tenant experience by capturing the demographic seeking modern design and sustainable living…previously unattainable in Northwest Arkansas.
This project rediscovers spaces in a palette of steel and cedar to breathe new life into an otherwise banal layered construction system. The design had to perform both tectonically and compositionally in a very simple way to meet the demands of budget and schedule. A kit of parts panel system was developed, combining the modern durability of steel with the natural warmth of cedar to reshape and reform the juxtaposition of the existing structures. Ground-based cedar panels carve out new terrace spaces. New balconies extend beyond the wraparound walkways at the second floor, simultaneously extending outdoor space while covering patios below. New cantilevered stairs span from the third floor walkways to roof, allowing people to access previously unobtainable views of the university, city and mountains. The new composition provides a playful backdrop for the complex and delivers unique character and spatial options for various units around the property.
The unit interiors were refined as gallery-like spaces, blank canvases upon which people can insert their lives within the efficient 600 SF one bedroom apartments. Quality wood millwork, concrete countertops, and polished concrete floors were used to provide durable, clean, and sustainable finishes which compliment a carefully introduced color palette. A central multivalent wall enables storage, spatial articulation, a light source and houses a 180° rotating TV box, allowing one television to serve the living, kitchen, and bedroom spaces.
From the standpoint of an apartment-dweller, each unit was exactly the same: a closed-in box chopped into tiny rooms with little or no defined outdoor space. Within the confines of the original building footprint, interiors feel more spacious due to the introduction of larger windows, sliding patio doors, open living spaces with built-in, multifunctional storage and work spaces. Each unit now has an outdoor living space—a terrace, a walled patio, a balcony, or a large rooftop terrace—carved from existing unused or underutilized space.
The success of the project is a culmination of a collaborative design team, led by the forward thinking clients seeking to develop a truly attainable sustainable design, a first in this market. The combination of Portland-based Bob Dant, and Northwest Arkansas-based Specialized Real Estate Group supported the project from inception to completion with innovative thinking and leadership that allowed the project to meet the demands of people, planet, and profit.