Gulf Coast Community Design Studio
Architecture for Humanity is pleased to support the work of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio. The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio is an outreach of Mississippi State University School of Architecture and uses professional faculty and staff to provide design assistance to the communities along the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by Hurricane Katrina. In January, Architecture for Humanity provided the studio with a grant to hire two design professionals to work on site in East Biloxi.
Since then teh community design studio has worked with the Biloxi Relief Recovery and Revitalization Center to help families in East Biloxi re-envision and rebuild their community. Early on their work has focused on mapping the neighborhood, work that laid the groundwork for programs like the Model Home Program. Today, they are working on providing design services to families repairing and reconstructing homes.
Above: Members of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio and the Biloxi Relief Recovery and Revitalization Center in February 2006. From left to right: Kate Stohr (AFH), Uyen Le (NAVASA), David Perkes (GCCDS), Councilman Bill Stallworth (BRRRC), Sherry-Lea Bloodworth (AFH), Benjamin Warnke (Warnke Community Consulting), Phil Eide (ECD), D. Jason Pressgrove (GCCDS), Cameron Sinclair (AFH)
The maps were then posted at the Biloxi Relief Recovery and Revitalization center along with other diagrams prepared by the center to help families determine whether or not it was feasible for them to rebuild on their lot.
Project: Reddix House
Cora Reddix, 86, has lived in Biloxi for over 50 years. A mother of two grown children, Jean and Juanita, she now lives in a small FEMA Trailer parked in the North corner of her property on Elmer Street. And though she has several of them, Cora says that she forgets to bring her Òwalking stickÓ every time she leaves the house. But most of the time, she waits, like so many others in East Biloxi, for a roof over her head.
Her former home was decrepit before the Hurricane in 2005. After the hurricane, crooked but still standing, the home was deemed totally unsound, held up solely by the vertical siding. It was demolished in the middle of March 2006, with the promise that a new one would be built by a contractor, volunteers, and $20,000 of Ms. ReddixÕs money.
But at the end of April 2006, Ms. Reddix found that her $20,000 had been mishandled by the contractor and that there was nothing left-no money, no home, a tragedy upon tragedy on the empty lot at 207 Elmer Street, home of Ms. Cora Reddix.
Above: Plans of the proposed home by D. Jason Pressgrove/Gulf Coast Community Design studio
Bounded on the South by the railroad and to the West by a historical home, 207 Elmer Street is 70ft wide by 48ft deep. The ÒranchÓ proportion-wide along the street, shallow in depth-is rotated in comparison to the other properties along the narrow Elmer Street and to East Biloxi where the typical lot size is approximately 50ft wide by 100ft deep. The required setbacks (20ft. front, 25ft. rear, 5ft sides) for the site do not match the character of the street. A variance provides a more confident setback of 10ft. The frequency of trains gives the site a dynamic, urban quality, but frequently and abruptly pauses conversation. The private spaces, therefore, act as a buffer to the social spaces. The home mustmeet the International Building Code and the Standard for Hurricane Resistant Residential Construction, be easy to build with volunteer labor and, by conscience, be accessible.
Project: Harris House
Patience, 67, is a lifelong resident of Biloxi, Mississippi. She, a mother of 3 grown children (Arnold, Donna, and Robert), has been at 192 Bellman Street since 1967. Her modest home there was heavily damaged in the surge of Katrina. Like the Reddix, the small amount of money she had for repairs, she gave to a contractor who promised her a new home, but her money was mismanaged.
The many volunteers have been great to her and have done all that they can to repair her damaged home. They have gutted, set a few new windows, put in a new sub-floor, and through their work, demonstrated a degree of optimism about the property's future. But her home barely withstood the knocking and the beating of these minor repairs and must ultimately be demolished.
Interior of the existing home which will need to be demolished
The challenges in designing this house were to: provide an outdoor extension of the living and kitchen spaces for entertaining, provide daylighting for every room, meet the International Building Code and the Standard for Hurricane Resistant Residential Construction and to make the home easy to build with volunteer labor and accessible.-P
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