Just last January, The Tulane School of Architecture broke ground on their 3rd URBANbuild house. Now, barely 5 months—5 months!—later, the new home is almost complete and it’s their best one yet. Designed by students over the course of a semester, each URBANbuild house has been an investigation into a new building technique, with this most recent home utilizing Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs).

Besides gaining experience in construction and a more practical sense of materials, students are also learning what it’s like to leave the computer and their own private, design headspace and actually work together as an office. And yes, that means there’s a client. In this case, it’s the Neighborhood Housing Services, who obtain the lots, set the size and budget restrictions, and eventually find familes to occupy the complete homes.

Students were given the difficult task of fitting a comfortable 3 bedroom home in only 1200 sq ft of space. In the above photo, an interior stairwell is programmed for both circulation and storage while it also separates the living space from the kitchen.

In a city that’s still very much suffering in the aftermath of Katrina, the URBANbuild program truly serving an important purpose in the community by creating in-fill housing in neighborhoods where it sometimes seems like every other home is still abandoned. It’s helping to bringing back a density and sense of community while teaching students and introducing contemporary architecture (informed, of course, by the vernacular) to an area that’s never really seen anything like it. This is really just a terrific program that keeps getting better every year.

· The Tulane School of Architecture [website]
· URBANbuild Breaks Ground on New House [Life Without Buildings]

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