“A dignified house, a beautiful house, a house that everybody likes – not just architects.”

March 26, 2011 at 7:23 pm Leave a comment

To be widely appreciated is just one of the many goals of the $20K House, “an ongoing research project at the Rural Studio that seeks to address the pressing need for decent and affordable housing in Hale County, Alabama.” The goal of this project is a product line of three (or possibly more) houses that can each be built in 3 weeks for $20,000 – equating to $12,000 in materials and $8,000 in labor. But beyond being admirably cost effective, the $20K Houses will also employ local labor, use locally sourced materials, and (as I mentioned) be designed to have overall value to a huge variety of people – most importantly, the residents of the houses themselves and the larger Hale County community.

rendering of a 20K House from March 2011

Presented by Andrew Freear, a professor at Auburn and director of its Rural Studio program, the $20K House is one of many projects that I learned about at this year’s Structures for Inclusion conference. Titled “Structures for Inclusion 10+1,” this is the eleventh conference hosted by Bryan Bell and his organization Design Corps, a major force behind the SEED Network. The design priorities for the $20K House line up perfectly with the goals of the SEED Network, which fundamentally exists to promote a triple bottom line approach to architecture (i.e. Social, Economical, and Environmental design).

Later in the conference Sergio Palleroni, founder of the BaSIC Initiative and professor at Portland State University, noted that a major benefit of taking this approach with your projects is that the SEED priorities communicate easily to all stakeholders and to potential investors, which can’t always be said for the traditional priorities of architects. As someone who strongly believes that architects need to more clearly articulate their potential ROI to clients, I couldn’t agree more.

March 26’s daily design idea is the SEED Vision: “Every person should be able to live in a socially, economically, and environmentally healthy community.” And be able to live in a house that they like.

This is post 1 of 7 recapping Structures for Inclusion 10+1, an annual conference focused on design for social good.


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My design process (part 1 of many). Community-driven vs. community-based design.

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