2016 National DiscoverDesign Competition- Aurora

2016 National DiscoverDesign Competition: Design an affordable housing prototype

Define the Problem

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Affordability is not the first nor the last thing that comes to mind when thinking of Las Vegas. That happens to be the problem here. Many college students, young professionals, or people that want to live with a room mate, do not have many options when it comes to affordability. Even if the options are there, most of those options are not very attractive. That is a massive problem with affordable housing. People should be able to be proud of the houses they live in. Unfortunately, not many affordable housing options capture the idea of a living space that a person(s) can be proud of. This is the objective of these housing units for the targeted demographic of college students/room mates as well as young professionals. This is due to the fact that there are not many attractive and affordable options for people that are young and just starting to begin their life. It is essential that this house be affordable, sustainable, and efficient (both energy and cost). The project will be named Aurora to highlight the ample natural lighting throughout the house.

Collect Info

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The proposed site is located at Tropicana and Wilbur in Paradise. It is approximately 3.53 Acres of land. An acre is 43, 560 square feet, and the house units are 930 square feet plus some possible property space. This lot is more than large enough to create a couple units. The site is located right across from the University of Nevada Las Vegas' campus. The site is extremely convenient, besides the fact that its across from campus, it is located by most, if not all, necessities. It is located near a shopping center with an abundance of stores, a bank, restaurants etc. There are also an abundance of RTC stops for those who need public transportation, including a stop directly in front of the site. The median house income in the area is $37,817. Residents’ Ages : 33.39 Percentage of Males and Females: Males: 53.3% Females: 46.7%. The ethnicity break down of the site is mostly white. The typical home price that exists in the area is about $124,990-$130,000. With the site being this close to campus, it would not only save time for students to get on campus, but also save them gas. A park is located on the other side of campus that can be reached through both walking and driving. A lot of young professionals work in the epicenter of the city which is the Las Vegas Strip. The problem with the Las Vegas Strip is that property there is not very cheap. A great solution to that is this site. The site is close enough to the Strip to drive or use public transportation to get there. This way, property is cheaper and those young professionals are still able to get to their jobs from a site that is relatively close. Because a college graduate with a bachelors degree makes on average $50,000 and out of the $50,000 only about $15,000 is left towards a home, $1,200 of that would be left for rent or mortgage. Since the house is about $93,000 total because of the 930 square footage, the amount spent on the house would be $27,900. This would make the rent or mortgage $2,325. This is above their budget that is left for a person of this caliber, but this said college student could get a room mate and split the cost that would have them at about $1,162 per month for rent or mortgage. This is the estimate for the average college student, but the demographic is not only targeted towards college students, it is also targeted towards young professionals.. Young professionals on average make about $10,000 more than these college students, which is about $60,500. Both are able to afford it, definitely affordable for both demographics (especially for young professionals). The thing about this house is that even though the projected cost is $93,000, but the materials may end up cheaper because of the CMUs and other materials. The cost can possibly go down to $87,000-$90,000.

Brainstorm Ideas

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Before starting the sketching process, I began to think of ways of making the affordable house energy efficient in order to save money for the inhabitants of the home. The targeted demographic can be a singular person (if they choose), a couple, young professionals, two roommates, a university couple (with a possible child), etc. Mostly for people that attend the campus across the street, but not limited to it. To begin with, installing ductless air conditioning systems are inexpensive, they are efficient, and they cost less in terms of utilities because they use less power. The sketching process shows what i started with as an original idea. Getting to the second sketch, problems began to arise when the square footage of the house was 1750 square feet, which was not bad, but not affordable enough in terms of site and space. Once the square footage was reduced, the idea began to shape and I came to the realization that it would not work well and did not give the appeal it needed to, the idea was scrapped and the process was again started and eventually got to the point of the final design.

Develop Solutions

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There are multiple solutions to making this house affordable and efficient. For one, the house is small in size: 930 square feet. This significantly reduces the cost of the house because of its size. Other solutions to make it both affordable and efficient include a ductless air conditioning system, solar control window films, different flooring material, solar energy, and efficient material for walls. Tesla's solar roofing provides a great solution for solar energy while also looking very attractive, as in, no blatant panels jutting out of the top of the roof. A window air conditioner provides a ductless air system that is cheaper on utilities for the house and includes heating as well as a washable filter. Solar control films on the windows would help with energy efficiency, solar glare, and minimal UV exposure. Wood siding and smooth stucco are both very cheap and also match the aesthetic of the neighborhood (the apartments and residential houses) and the university that has more of a modern look, which is where the modern look of the house comes from. Cork flooring is a perfect solution to sustainability and efficiency, it creates a great insulator and is very convenient for maintenance. The sun will rise on the east side of the house which is where the bedrooms are located so that natural light comes into the bedrooms in the morning through the clerestory windows. In the evening, the sun will set on the west side of the house, where the living room and kitchen are. Because of the targeted demographic, the living room and the kitchen will be the work area for the inhabitants in the evening after coming back from work or schooling. Ample sunlight will be coming in through the clerestory windows on the east side of the house (living room and kitchen). The final floor plan of the house includes two same sized bedrooms. The reason these bedrooms are the same size rather than having a master bedroom is because there is a possibility that the inhabitants will have room mates. Most of the time, room mates share the cost of the house. It would not be very fair to one of the room mates if their room was smaller than their counterpart. A half bath was put into the house as well so that in case someone is using the bathroom (in case of roommates) another bathroom will be available for them.

Final Design

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The pictures shown are the final design of the house. The renders showcase how the space can be utilized toward affordability, comfort, and attractiveness. The reason the two renders of the kitchen and the living room were chosen is because they showcased how the kitchen and the living room shared the space and how a person(s) would be able to live within what can possibly be the most utilized space for young professionals or students. The material view showcases the most important materials to the house, which include: CMU walls, wood siding, solar filmed windows, Tesla's solar roof, smooth stucco, ductless air-conditioning (window A/C), aluminum bar supports, and cork flooring. The final exterior view showcases what the house and what it would look like on a plot of land. It is always important to remember that affordability is not just the price of the house itself, but its ability to be sustainable and continue to be so for years to come. The cost of the house would be from $89,000-$93,000 under the calculations made. For the area, it is definitely affordable. Young professionals and college students alike, can both afford the house and their savings will only increase with the money they save from improved efficiency thanks to the materials of the house (energy efficiency) and the ductless air conditioning unit that will also help save money on utilities. The natural lighting allows for less amounts of use on utilities as well and therefore, lower bills.