LTU students design new house for Habitat for Humanity

Lawrence Tech architecture graduate students in an advanced design studio are in the middle of a two-year project to create a new approach to housing design and construction for Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County that could become the standard for future construction.
 
Work on this project will be on display at the “Hall House Full Scale” exhibition running Dec. 8-18, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., in the Architecture building gallery (A210). 
 
The project began in the fall of 2014, and construction will finish soon after the prototype house’s foundation is poured in Commerce Township in the spring.
 
The task of designing a house to meet the needs of Habitat for Humanity clients has been embedded into the curriculum of this studio within the architecture master’s degree program at LTU.  Associate Professor Scott Shall and Associate Professor Jim Stevens are leading the advanced design studio and coordinating the project with Habitat for Humanity managers.
 
The graduate students have met with owners of Habitat for Humanity houses and will continue to seek feedback throughout the design process. They’ve also met with appraisers and others involved in the real estate market.
 
“The students are learning the value of listening by talking to more constituents than architects usually do, and they’re doing it at an earlier stage in the design process,” Shall said.
 
Habitat has asked the students to come up with a house design that reduces the environmental footprint and cost yet increases the functionality and appraisal value of a three-bedroom house with one and a half bathrooms.
 
The students are attempting to save time and money on the construction site by utilizing the digital fabrication equipment and approaches of the makeLab in LTU’s College of Architecture and Design. They are designing and constructing some of the more expensive elements of the house in advance such as walls where the utilities are located, kitchen and bathroom walls, and walls that have closets with built-in storage space.
 
Having those elements of the house built off-site and in advance should improve the efficiency of Habitat volunteer crews, especially during the winter months.  
 
The project was the subject of an interview on Michigan Public Radio.
 
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. The Brookings Institution ranks Lawrence Tech fifth nationwide for boosting graduates’ earning power, PayScale lists it in the nation’s top 10 percent of universities for graduates’ salaries, and U.S. News and World Report places it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus in Southfield, Michigan, include over 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.