LocationNew Orleans, United States
Architect in ChargeSeth Welty
Text description provided by the architects. This project- a home in New Orleans- was designed, built, and owned by the architects that worked on it. This was born partially out of a desire to explore less-traditional roles for architecture firms; partially to act as the guinea pigs for their own architectural ideas and whims, and partially out of the indulgence of using one’s own hands to build the work they design.
The group purchased the substandard vacant lot in a public auction held by New Orleans’ Redevelopment Authority, with the stipulation that winning bidder had only 12 months to design, permit, build, and occupy on the little 30’ x 90’ lot. These restrictive timeline and design challenges were counterweighted by the endearing qualities of the dense, lively neighborhood and the lush, live oak lined street; each of which lended themselves to the site and massing strategy for the house.
The broad design approach involved positioning the main living area on the upper floor to engage the tree canopy, providing a sense of cozy loftiness reminiscent of a child’s treehouse. The lower volume has an exterior “carriageway” carved through the entire mass, creating covered outdoor space (the width and length based on the long linear tables used for communal crawfish boils) allowing a sense of extensiveness on the deceptively small lot.
An interior double height volume is carved into the front of the house; affording deeper visual access to the upper tree canopy, and connecting the public areas on the ground floor to the semi-public area on the second. A similar high volume was positioned in the rear of the house which gives a view into the high night sky when laying in bed in the evening.
The main mass of the building is positioned to align with and continue the streetfront edge established by the existing homes on the street. Through variance and negotiation with the City of New Orleans, the front stoop cantilevers beyond the property line in order to align with the historic stoop condition along the streetfront.
The building itself is a modest 1400 SF, and is arranged to operate as either a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home- or two smaller units (a 2 Bed / 1.5 Bath and 1 Bed / 1 Bath) unit to allow short and long term flexibility for the owners.