Urban Live/Work Infill

Jacksonville is full of empty lots and surface parking that once housed buildings and shops and all manner of dense urban fabric. This wasteland needs to be filled. But with what? How about modern urban townhomes and live/work lofts?

The first floor consists of a retail space and the public living areas. The second floor would include bathrooms, bedrooms, laundry and an outdoor patio. Perfect for young entrepreneurs in a recovering economy.


container floor construction

My last post on container wall construction seemed to be very popular.  Thanks to everyone who clicked, read and offered comments.  I hope everyone enjoys this post on how to construct the floor of a shipping container.

First a little review:  As you’ll remember from last time, containers are not initially intended to house humans….or dogs, cats…really anything with skin and/or fur is not meant to be housed in these things.  The paint is toxic and needs to be either sandblasted and coated with impervious paint, or (if you take the short cut) simply painted with impervious paint (this is really not recommended).  The floor, also, is not friendly to us or anything else as it is typically either OSB or standard plywood soaked in formaldehyde so that it doesn’t rot as it travels across the globe being beaten to hell by God and Creation.  So, we need to get rid of it, again, safely.  Contact your local EPA to find out how to properly dispose of this crap – believe me you don’t want to hang on to it.

Once you’ve removed the plywood floor, you’ll see the structural steel ribs below that give the container it’s horizontal support.  Now, we’ve got a couple of options on how we can build our floor.  It all depends on your foundation type: whether your containers are off grade on a stem wall or sitting on a slab.

The easy option is to screw down a new subfloor (either plywood or OSB) and, while you’re spraying the exterior of the container with SPF, simply spray the underside of the floor as well, thus insulating and sealing the underside of the container.  Then install whatever floor finish you choose – tile, vct, carpet, hardwood, engineered wood, cork, bamboo…you could even leave the plywood exposed and finish it with a polyurethane for that “industrial” look.

Another option for the floors, one that is much more sturdy and permanent, in my opinion, is to use concrete.  A typical concrete floor with deck is approximately 4″ thick (2 1/2″ of corrugated metal deck and 1 1/2″ of lightweight concrete fill).  If poured on grade, you’ll also have about 2″ of foam insulation underneath with a vapor barrier to prevent  water intrusion through the slab.  For a container, what we do is first lay in exterior grade plywood (5/8″ min.) between all of those steel joists, followed by 2″ of rigid foam insulation (you can find this stuff everywhere – even for free).  On top of the foam you pour your concrete (3″ – 4″) with a medium gauge welded wire fabric.  The concrete is leveled, smoothed and finished in any number of ways – saw cut, stained, brushed, etc.  Also, don’t forget to add in at least 2 expansion joints across the length of the container.  Steel and concrete move in very different ways and the last thing you want is a huge crack from expansion and contraction of the steel.  Essentially what we’ve created is a reinforced waffle slab that is insulated between the steel joists.  Any thermal bridging at the joists will be minimal.

Whichever option you choose for the floor of your new container home, be sure to consult with a local structural engineer and your local building inspector/plans examiner to make sure that you are building to proper code.  While containers provide an inexpensive building unit with which to construct a home, remember there are important steps that need to be taken in order to make them habitable and safe according to modern building codes.

bus shelter

This is a quick rendering that I did for a RFP that I never sent out.  Basically I got too busy with too many side projects that this one slipped right through the cracks and I didn’t even think of it again till I was cleaning out some space on a hard drive and stumbled onto the renderings.

Bus shelters are something of a contentious topic here in Jacksonville.  Which is ironic because we desperately NEED more bus shelters to protect people from the elements.  The reason the subject gets so heated here in good ole Jax is because everyone is in favor of more shelters, BUT on one side are those in favor of adverts and the other side is adamantly opposed to them.

That debate aside, I came across this RFP call to artists to design a bus shelter that would be placed in various sites throughout a small mid western city.  Some initial thoughts that I had on “what makes a good bus shelter” were:

cover from the elements
lighting at night
and yes, adverts

These, to me, make up the basic necessity of the bus shelter.  And I came up with this design which incorporates all of these things.  The shelter provides cover from the elements while still allowing you to see in either direction so you don’t miss your ride; it provides lighting during nighttime hours or during inclement weather via solar power and provides signage and adverts digitally on the rear wall – this is a bit of genius on my part if I do say so myself.  😉

What say you?

daylight render - copywrite 2010 - r | one studio arch

night render - copywrite 2010 - r | one studio arch

domo 2×5

In my continuing quest to design affordable, easily constructed homes for the “little guy” (that would be people like me who make less than $200k a year), I came up with an idea for a 320 square foot home made out of two 20′ standard “high cube” shipping containers.  This is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath home completely paired down to the absolute essentials.  It’s not flashy, it’s certainly not a mcmansion, but it’s certainly enough to get started with.  In designing the floor plan, I used european design sensibilities to maximize the available space, since the square footage is limited.  The use of outdoor space to supplement anything lacking indoors is key in a new way of living that thinks outside the box – pun intended.

The roof is elevated in order to put any utilities above the cube so as not to take up precious space indoors.  The high pitch of the roof (5:12) would allow for construction in nearly any climate and also takes advantage of water reclamation for use in washing dishes/clothes and flushing toilets to minimize the need for city services.  Obviously plenty of daylight is let in via operable awning windows that also aid in passive ventilation thus reducing the need for hvac and electric lighting during the daytime hours.

Below are some preview images of the model without any material rendering as of yet.  The real purpose of these designs is to convey form and intent.  Material and color is all up to the client/homeowner.  Finished floor plans are under development, so stay tuned for updates.

[editor’s note: after starring at my “unrendered” images for a while I got tired of the blandness of them and decided to add some texture, material and color.  below you’ll see the posts are 6×6 pressure treated wood, the roof is standing seam metal with integrated solar cells, the cladding is a combination of stucco (at front entry) and vertical siding. The windows are designed to be either wood, vinyl or aluminum storefront as budget would allow.  Finish off with simple concrete piers and wood decks and you’ve got yourself one sexy “Corten Castle” (term copywrited by renaissance ronin).]


front entry and porch doubles as outdoor living space - copywrite r | one studio arch 2010

side of building at front and rear porches - copywrite r | one studio arch 2010

Challenge no 1

Design and construct a single famy home, 3br 2 bth, for $100k or less. What does it look like? Is it a true modern home or something more traditional? Does it utilize sustainable tech to bring down operating costs or simply use energy star appliances? What materials and finishes do you employ?
In the next 30 days I’ll try and answer these questions. As well as, how does the modern family live? What are the requirements for today’s family life? How does modern tech impact the way families interact today and how does that affect the design of a home? Does it matter?
It seems to me that we’re entering a time when the old ways of doing things, of designig homes, needs to change.

Elevation #2

Elevation sketch #2 in progress. A more formal Craftsman style with some contemporary flare. I’ve also increased the roof slope and added a more formal balcony at the master. Materials are brick and horizontal siding.