A New Look at Southern Housing
During the 1960’s and 1970’s, especially post 1973 Oil Crisis, a proliferation of energy efficient houses and technologies occurred. The back-to-the earth movements, in the spirit of Henry David Thoreau, sparked off-the-grid lifestyles. Publications such as the Whole Earth Catalog, Better Homes and Garbage, and the Energy Primer were readily available. The character of the houses matched the character of their inhabitants. Both are distinctly, and intentionally, marginal. Both exhibit this “thoreauesque” regard for individuality and disregard for community. The house’s aesthetic has a precisely defined engineered appearance. Its shed roofs are sloped to allow appropriate winter sun. It’s proportioned and situated on a site primarily to respond to climatic factors. Both the house and the inhabitant’s relationship are with nature.
Counter posing the energy efficient house is the contemporary suburban house. The character of the houses matches the character of their inhabitants. Both are distinctly, and intentionally, stylized and conventional. Individuality of the houses derives from their applied styles. The houses’ aesthetic is a precisely defined conventional appearance. Traditional elements, such as Doric columns, Palladian arches, vernacular brick, expansive roofs, are layered over similar plans. The house forms respond to (or, arguably define) similar lifestyles. Their purpose is to promote a conventional social sense of community.
from D. Lewis A New Look at Southern Housing SCH Report 6
The Southern Climate offers many challenges to homeowners including:
- decay fungi
- subterranean termites
- high wind events
Housing research must be regionalized rather than using a “one size fits all” structure. With approximately 70,000 new homes being built each year in the Southeastern U.S., there is a need to study housing problems unique to the region. The Southern Climatic Housing Research Team will construct a research and demonstration house on the MSU campus to illustrate that durability, energy efficiency and achieving good air quality do not require dramatic changes to lifestyle, spatial needs, or the looks of the dwelling.
The Coalition for Advanced Wood Structures (CAWS) brings together our nation’s universities to focus on residential wood product and systems research.
The Coalition effectively functions as an extension of the Advanced Housing Research Center
at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis., but operates as a separate entity with the primary purpose of housing research in the Southern climatic region.
The research and demonstration house will be dynamic, rather than static, in order to serve as a teaching facility for students and as a demonstration site for builders, architects, contractors, and homeowners.
The goal is to inspire and educate the visitors to the importance and the ease with which someone could build a sustainable home without a dramatic change in lifestyle.