To be re-installed beginning October 19, 2003 for an extended run. We will also travel 100 of the designs to other venues beginning the winter, 2003-04.
The HOME House Projectis an innovative multi-year initiative created by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA). It represents a revolutionary shift in SECCA’s long-standing Artist and the Communityseries by addressing the idea of community in a national, and perhaps global, sense. With theHOME House Project, we challenged artists and architects to propose new designs for single family housing for low- and moderate-income families using Habitat for Humanity’s basic three-and-four bedroom house as a “point of departure”. In addition, the design criteria included eco-friendly and sustainable materials, technologies, and methods.The response we received was overwhelming as more than 440 individuals and teams from the United States, Italy, England, Spain, Canada, the Netherlands, and Russia, sent proposals (from the more than 790 that registered). Our goals for the project have remained unchanged from its original planning stages: 1) to provide inspired design in the affordable housing market for those who historically have been ommitted from enjoying its benefits; 2) to establish a new national housing model in terms of design, energy efficiency, environmental consciousness, and cost effectiveness that can change the stigma attached to affordable housing throughout the United States; 3) to showcase the most recent advances in sustainable design and 4) to foster new partnerships with people, organizations and communities across the United States involved in the creative applications of affordable design. Our idea is to create a model program that once it begins to germinate, will continue to grow, develop, and multiply.
SECCA presents the HOME House Projectas an alternative to the perception that affordable housing is short on inspiration, character, and quality. The project is an affirmation that contemporary art museums can make a major difference in communities and in this case, can create opportunities to realize better standards of living. This is the first time that a museum of any kind has ventured into this territory. We view the HOME House Projectas a unique opportunity to provide residents of low-and-moderate income housing with inspired living space historically reserved for the more affluent.
TheHOME House Projectfeatures multiple components: a competition, exhibition, publication, educational programming, and a building phase—all of which are made possible by a large range of partnerships and collaborations with individuals, organizations, and communities. On September 1, 2002, SECCA announced theHOME House Projectcompetition via national and international websites and magazines such as Death by Architecture, Dwell, Architectural Record, Metropolis, Loud Paper, CITY, the SECCA web site, and many others. SECCA secured the general building criteria and the working construction drawings from Habitat for Humanity’s corporate headquarters in Americus, Georgia. That information, combined with our local Habitat site data and price structure, were used as a general guideline for the HOME House Project entrants to follow. The jury, consisting of three nationally-known critics, architects, educators, authors, and builders Michael Sorkin (NY), Ben Nicholson (Chicago), and Steve Badanes (Seattle), convened on May 3-4, 2003 and selected twenty-five Proposals of Meritthat best addressed the project’s design criteria. Due to the egalitarian nature of the project, the jury decided to share the award monies evenly between all twenty-five winners.
The exhibition of more than 440 designs opened to the public on Friday night, May 8, 2003. More than 480 people attended the opening reception, including a representative from National Public Radio who produced a four-minute story that was broadcast on NPR stations across the state. The story begins with an individual who recently moved from squalor into a new house through the Housing Partnership program. While delighted to have his own place, this man was asked whether or not he would be interested in living in one of these innovative house designs. Without hesitation, he answered, “In a flash!” The same producer is working on another story that will be broadcast nationally on the syndicated program Marketplaceonce the construction of the first house begins.
The second component of the project is a multi-year building phase. A series of house structures for low-and-moderate income families will be built, based on these award-winning designs, in concert with families in need at specific sites beginning in Winston Salem. SECCA will partner with builders, financing organizations, and other organizations in the affordable housing infrastructure of the various communities where the building of these designs will occur.Housing Partnership of Winston Salem/Forsyth County, Inc. is the first organization to team with SECCA in the building of two houses. The Housing Partnership is a local office of the national organization and has over 300 building sites throughout Winston Salem. Jane Milner, their executive director, wants to take the proceeds from the sale of the first two houses and build four other units. Habitat for Humanity, Forsyth County has recently held several meeting to discuss the possibility of working with several other organizations in building a series of these designs in the Happy Hill community of South-Central Winston Salem. The Happy Hill community is the oldest African-American neighborhood in the city with beginnings that can be traced back to the original Moravian settlers at the end of the Civil War.It should be noted that our local Habitat office was contacted in December 2001 about becoming a partner in the HOME House Project. While initially enthusiastic about the possibility, they decided to decline the invitation. However, because of the great interest in the project from our community and the Habitat board of directors, our local Habitat chapter is now seeking ways to collaborate in realizing these designs. After the building begins here, the project will spread to other areas in North Carolina and expand to other states.
To date more than 6,000 people (students, artists, families, housing advocates, business groups, patrons and others curious about innovative design) have attended the exhibition and its programs and more than 20 tours have occurred. SECCA has encouraged organizations and community groups to hold meetings in the museum as a way to encourage dialogue about the project. The local American Institute of Architects (AIA) chapter and the Housing Partnership Board met here in June as did the Builder’s Association of Salisbury, N.C. who spent four hours and selected a design to build for their local Habitat chapter. Members of several groups in Asheville (Public Arts Commission, Zoning Board, and Asheville Art Museum Board) have contacted SECCA and expressed their interest in the realizing the project in their community and hosting the exhibition. The Housing and Community Development office from the city of Greensboro will attend the exhibition this week. It is grass-roots organizations such as these, that in tandem with SECCA, have the ability to change the stigma attached to affordable housing in their respective communities. They work directly with families and communities and, by partnering with SECCA, have the ability to initiate change on an individual level.
Because of the great amount of interest in the project, SECCA recently decided to reinstall the exhibition in our Main Gallery beginning in mid-October for an extended stay. The twenty-five award winners have all agreed to produce ¼” scale models of their designs. Institutions from across the United States have contacted us regarding hosting the exhibition. Because of such interest, we are planning to travel one hundred works from the exhibition. The McColl Center for the Arts in Charlotte has asked for the exhibition beginning December, 2003. The Atlanta International Museum of Art and Design wishes to install the work in late 2004. Other venues in Chicago and New York have expressed great interests as well. Forsyth Technical Community College is partnering with SECCA to produce thirteen three-dimensional computer animations of the award winners. Forsyth Tech’s students and faculty have offered to work on the local construction of the HOME House Project homes in the Winston Salem area to gain the necessary skills to build sustainable houses in other areas well beyond graduation.
SECCA’s education mission places a high value on the role the arts play in bringing disparate communities together to learn and share new found experiences. The social connections built through this project are creating a community network featuring not only professionals in the fields of architecture and design, but also people from all walks of life who stand to benefit from the issues raised pertaining to affordable housing design.In helping to better understand the issues raised by the HOME House Project, SECCA developed an educational resource area where audiences could view the Planet Neighborhood, a three-part video series: Home, Work, and Community, looking at the latest in energy-saving technology and design. A computer station offered additional information on some of the designs as well as links to organizations such as the Sustainable Network, Green Building Design and countless others. SECCA commissioned Marti Oakes, from Harvard via the 16 Houses Projectin Houston, to present a document that chronicles the necessary steps in taking design ideas to the built stage. A glossary of sustainable terms was printed in a large banner format, used with permission from the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. SECCA also screened award-winning films on successive Thursday evenings: Sustainable Futures; The Next Revolution: William McDonough, Michael Braungart and the Birth of the Sustainable Economy (a ground-breaking vision—reinventing technical enterprises using nature as a guide); Blue Vinyl(a hilarious search for truth about the vinyl manufacturing industry); Affluenza; andGreen Animation.Most of these films featured a post-screening discussion with the filmmakers or representatives of the subject of the films. Jury member and noted architectural critic Michael Sorkin returned to SECCA in June with a lecture, The City After Now. Design/Builder Steve Badanes (Jersey Devils fame) will lecture at the museum in October. Mr. Badanes was cited by the late visionary Samuel Mockbee, as the inspiration for Mockbee’s award-winning Rural Studio community architectural program in Greensboro, Alabama through Auburn University.
SECCA will produce a publication of the twenty-five award-winning designs (along with seventy-five other designs), and essays by Sorkin, Nicholson, and others in the field, to put these sustainable designs into context. SECCA has contacted Princeton Architectural Press regarding the publication of a book. While funding exists to produce a catalog, we are seeking ways to publish a book as a first choice and make it widely available. SECCA senior curator and the HOME House Project director David J. Brown recently presented the project at the national conference of the Association of Community Design in Baltimore. He will also present the project at the College Art Association in Seattle in February and at another conference in Atlanta in April, 2004.
Innovative affordable design is a new concept and introducing it into the existing system of communities and organizations in the affordable housing infrastructure requires finess and diplomacy. SECCA discussed these issues early in the planning stages and they have proven to be true. SECCA’s Artist and the Communityseries has shown that one-on-one, personal relationships with our many partners has proven to be a highly successful and rewarding component in developing trust and participation in these rich, creative endeavors.