Project site: Greenfield
Building program type(s): Residential – Single-Family detached
The architect/owner wanted to design a progressive, environmentally responsible single-family home that fosters a meaningful experience through connected spatial relationships, transparency, and material continuity while opening up the design process firm-wide to support learning and experimentation in design, construction, and operation. The home occupies a 6,630-square-foot corner greenfield site in a new urbanism development built on a peninsula of land in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. Sited to frame the Mississippi River and Delta beyond, it is of comparable scale to its traditional surroundings while creating a visual threshold between interior and exterior to enhance the private and community experience.
It's a bold project; it's going out on a limb, which is positive. At scale, it fits in the neighborhood. Here is another way of doing this new urbanist plan that uses strategies appropriate for its place. People are welcome to come by and see and engage with it more than with other projects. There is outreach to the community: doing tours and using the project as a case study. More outward-facing than some other houses. The house thinks about its neighbors. Single family houses exist; if you're going to do it, this is it.
The project goal was to meet the AIA 2030 Challenge a full decade early and demonstrate a path to positive climate change. The home reframes the spatial and architectural expectations of an environmentally responsible house, exploring each opportunity to promote a broader and more expressive design impact. Significant research confirmed a long history of natural disasters around the site. Surrounded by the river, with an annual water level that experiences 50-foot fluctuations, and located within the New Madrid seismic zone, the most active in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains, the site has an elevated risk of floods and other severe weather events, such as straight-line winds and earthquakes.
Civitas is certified LEED Platinum for Homes and is the world’s first Zero Energy and Zero Carbon certified single-family dwelling by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). With a 200-year design life cycle, it will evolve and adapt to the changing needs of future families and environmental conditions. As a learning lab, the project supports ongoing study and has future project implications within our design practice with its broad application of high-performance strategies for a variety of typologies.