“Imagine … a Place called Home” UF Bateman Team Mount Campaign About Housing Issues

The team have taken Home Matters as their client in order to promote issues central to housing; affordability, health and safety. Visit the Home Imagined Website, and check out the article in the Sun for some great photos.

Team Members include: Elliot Levy, Valeria Yulee, Karilla Dyer, Andrea Cepeda and Trisha Tucker. Go Team!

We gave them a little hand with some ideas for turning a shipping container office into something else. UF’s Catalysts for Change organization assembled and adjusted the kit to fit.

Home...Imagined, Sun



Out of Pocket – Italy

There will be fewer postings to the MWBa blog for the next few months as Stephen will be teaching architecture in Vicenza Italy with the University of Florida Vicenza Institute of Architecture. If you would like to follow along send a request and he will add you to Google+.


Map of Vicenza

Kurz Container Residence

Another container residence…19 Kurz 100413_02

Although the increasingly popular shipping container home seems to be inspiring a number of people to inquire about their own, we’ve noticed that the strong modular nature of the container does little to hinder creativity as we find new opportunities with each successive client. Mr. Kurz came to us with an idea already brewing and a prototype plan ready to go. From there, it was a matter of making an extensive number of tweaks, each one opening new doors, and in some cases closing others, as we designed a home tailored to his needs and desires. A barge worthy 7 containers large, this home has no shortage of interesting features.

Family Courtyard – A large screened in area is framed by the main house and a smaller guest house. Part of the overhead will be made of a tarp material which provides ample protection from the elements but will really glow under the sun.

Solar Panels – There is potential here to produce more energy than one uses.

Skylights – These chimney like openings peak just high enough so they don’t interfere with any solar panels and provide the interior spaces with plenty of natural light.

An Interactive Cladding – This is the most unique feature of the home. Inspired by the client’s physical disability, we designed a facade made of slats which peel out at hand level, directly addressing mobility issues by providing a rail to grab by doors and other areas outside the home that may be frequented. Above this rail is also a shelf, extending the function beyond mobility and supports the client’s desire to entertain by providing a place to rest your drink.

Render 1 resizedRender of the courtyard space.

Levy Container Residence – Rad Cladding

Not just for the “Ooo” factor, but for the cool factor, literally. The cladding forms a shading layer for the containers to reduce direct solar gain and allow convection to cool the surface of the residence.

Using flitch cut cypress lumber siding, we can clad the exterior of the containers to camouflage them. Our cut of choice has 2 rough sides, 1 finished side and 1 raw side (peeled bark profile of cypress tree). This raw side exposes the diagonal profile of a cypress tree’s taper. We take advantage of this diagonal shape to create geometry in the facade which breaks the rigidity and horizontality of the containers and provides a more natural materiality to the exterior. This cladding also provides a protective skin against direct solar heat gain from sunlight.

In addition to the cladding, green walls will be used to further camouflage the containers and provide thermal protection. In most locations, these will be flowering vines adding color and scent to the exterior. At the ground level and other accessible areas, these could be planted with edible varieties.



Levy Container Residence – Final Round Schematics


This combination of the biaxial plan and the “T” plan makes outdoor deck space accessible for a large living room. The ground container is set to provide a large platform across the west end of the cabin; the end with the living room. It also provides some individuated exterior spaces for the private areas. It creates two separate smaller outdoor spaces adjacent to interior uses. The one adjacent to the Master Bath is an outdoor shower. The one adjacent to the Office/Exercise and the Master Bedroom is a deck. This deck is linked by a bridge to the summer kitchen and then the more public west facing porch/deck. In addition, this version features an internal stair connecting it with the guest suite in the container below. Surrounding the stair are bookshelves and storage, a library.



Levy Container Residence – Round Two Schematics

We’ve begun using the spaces beyond the container walls for external program as we continue to tie the project into the site.


This is the same container configuration of the previous round, with the plan flipped and a porch extended around the western three sides. The projecting container breaks the continuous wrap of the porch, so you end up with two larger porches. This defeats the exterior connection “in the round”, but it results in two distinct spaces, and variety is the spice of life.



The ground container sits transverse under the middle of the cabin. The cross shaped configuration creates a peripheral approach to relationship to use and site. The containers intersect at the public area of the cabin. This creates two separate outdoor platforms adjacent to interior uses. In addition, a porch deck wraps the exterior of the north, west and south sides connecting the platforms. Portions of the porch may be screened in to create variety of usefulness and variety of experience.


Levy Container Residence – Round One Schematics




In the site drawing above, we’ve strategically placed a proto-plan using our site map and what we know of wind conditions. Designing with these conditions in mind allows us to make a home which is thermoregulated by its natural surroundings. We are able to use natural shading and average wind conditions during the warm seasons to our advantage. In addition to this, we also consider maximizing views and good light while minimizing heat gain.


Wind Compasses

In the plan and diagrams above, you can see how we’ve adjusted the orientation of the containers to allow natural airflow through them during the warmest months. The plan also maximizes the views across the site and provides buffers from distant neighbors.


One of the advantages to working with shipping containers is the standardized dimensions of each unit. While having to work within specific dimensions may seem restrictive design, we find inspiration in the opportunities. Modularity gives us a rhythm of dimensioning to work with as well as a kit of parts which work together in different configurations. But the greater opportunity is what we can design in to juxtapose the inherent qualities of the module so that the result is not simply a stack of containers dropped onto earth, but architecture which uses juxtaposing ideas which bring out the best qualities of the home itself, but also one that breaks its own mold to become part of the landscape. One opportunity we can take advantage of, for example, is the space between containers. In the plan above, you can see how containers which shift and pull apart at a slight rotation can result in an interesting circulation space, leaving the container themselves to house living spaces. The connecting space can then become something unique in its own right. Further explorations come through various iterations and modifications of this plan and each is tested in the site.

Three versions are placed in the wind simulator in summer and winter.

Levy Container Residence – Ecositing

This our next shipping container home and has been in the works since March 2013. With shipping containers soon on the way, it won’t be long before it officially makes itself a home a beautiful plot of Florida landscape in Levy County, and what a site it is.

Inhabiting The Xeric Ridge
This site is part of a rapidly disappearing Florida landscape; the Florida Scrub. It is home to many rapidly disappearing species of plant and animal. The key to successfully inhabiting a site like this is the direction of the client, the ability of the architect and the knowledge of a team of people. Through many iterations of research and design, we hypothesize and test a way of living in this landscape. It is exciting.

Here are some core ideas we kept in mind as we designed:
• Recognize and identify the temporal aspects of site, including those associated with climate, cyclical seasonal changes, solar movements, wind, etc. Understand the relationships that temporal changes have on physical aspects of the site.
• Recognize the phenomenal, physiological, and psychological aspects of site, and the things that we, as humans, use to shape and understand a place through direct human perception.
• Shape ideas into/through “buildings” with architectural definition, including structure, heating/cooling/ventilation, and enclosure. Consider and deploy materiality in response to the architectural motivators.
• Recognize the relationships between natural resources, land use, material decisions, and human occupation.
• Evaluate decisions and strategies for optimizing, conserving, and/or reusing natural and built resources to provide healthful environments for occupants/users and reduce the environmental impacts of building construction and operations on future generations.
• Understand the energy implications of decisions made during the design process, and develop proposals that reduce energy use through passive and bioclimatic design strategies.

How do we take these ideas into design?
First, our site analysis. In addition to visiting the site numerous times at different times of day and as seasons change, we engage digital tools to help us create analytical imagery and modeling.

Site 1With a little know how, we can use Photoshop as a site an analysis tool. How can this be? Well, the first thing we need to know is that most aerial imagery is shot during winter months when deciduous trees have dropped their leaves, so anything that is still green in the aerial is either coniferous, evergreen or in temperate climates like Florida, a deciduous tree that stays green all year such as a live oak. By adjusting the color histogram of the aerial we can tune up the difference between the colors of the ground and vegetation resulting in a more legible plant map. The brightest greens are pines, the darker greens are the oaks and the blue-greens are the “Florida rosemary”. The red areas are “dead” things, fallen leaves, pine needles and dormant grasses.

Site 3

 Now we can utilize this analysis to make a tree and vegetation survey for design use. There are patterns visible in the drawing that locate the habitat differences that can be experienced in the site.

Site 4

Using beta software from Autodesk, we imported a digital model and ran it through in a wind simulator using annual climate data. This image actually shows a 3D representation of wind speed over the land that can be adjusted to time of day and time of year. We can include affects and obstacles such as topography and vegetation to understand how these impact our siting of the residence to maximize natural ventilation.

Next Post:
We use this information to site our proto plan and evaluate the impacts of our orientation on both the site and our construction.