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Open house for Studio 804’s new passive solar home May 13

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas students in the School of Architecture, Design & Planning's Studio 804 design-build program have completed their latest project, a passive solar house in east Lawrence. It will be open to the public 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at 1300 Brook St.

Final-year Master of Architecture students under the direction of Dan Rockhill, J.L. Constant Professor of Architecture, started design and construction of the house last August, then put on the finishing touches this week. They will lead the tours.

Like other recently built houses by Studio 804, this one seeks to maintain a high level of sustainable design as well as remaining contextually sensitive to its east Lawrence neighborhood. Its sophisticated steel exterior is reminiscent of the steel Lustron houses developed in the U.S. after World War II in response to the shortage of housing for returning veterans.

The house uses passive strategies for lighting and sun shading. Bedrooms and the kitchen and living room are arranged along the south wall so that natural light fills them. The glazing along the southwest corner provides passive heating and cooling throughout the year as well as creating a connection to the outdoor patio.

The house’s open plan can be easily reconfigured to accommodate different functions. For example, a flex-space can be used as a third bedroom, an office, a living room space or even a dining room. The glass-enclosed space at the southwest corner of the house can be used as a dining room, solarium or reading room.  

Other features include imported WaterSense-rated plumbing fixtures and Energy Star-compliant, Italian-made kitchen appliances. Red-oak European cabinets are topped with cold-rolled steel countertops. Floors are polished concrete, and recessed lighting fixtures are fitted LEDs.

Highly efficient insulation includes both rigid and blown-in cellulose that far exceeds U.S. Green Building Council LEED-rating standards. This allows the house to have all-electric climate control, appliances and lighting. A net-metered photovoltaic solar array, consisting of 16 panels, is capable of providing 4.8 kilowatt-hours of power.

Drought-resistant, native species were used for grass and plantings on the site, and a huge cottonwood tree that shades the northeast side of the lot was preserved.

Students in the Studio 804 class: Matthew Anderson, Grandview, Missouri; Faysal Karim Bhuiyan, Dhaka, Bangladesh; John Coughlin, Milford; Abigail Davis, Wildwood, Missouri; Caitlin Fitzgerald, Shawnee; Brittany Hediger, St. Louis; Evan Liles, Kansas City, Mo.; Charles Rotter, St. Louis; Chris Roybal, Lawrence, and Emily Stockwell, Liberty, Missouri.

Photos by Dan Rockhill.