[COMMENDATION AR HOUSE 2010] Marlon Blackwell’s flood resistant prototypical family house reinterprets vernacular types. Photography by Timothy Hursley
Conceived in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, this prototypical house forms part of the Biloxi Model Homes initiative run by Architecture for Humanity. The programme provides design services and financial assistance to families in the Mississippi city of Biloxi, whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
The challenge was to create a new type of family house that was both affordable and flood resistant, but the idea of raising a dwelling 3.4m off the ground challenges many precepts of Gulf Coast streetscape and urban identity. The more usual housing model is a single-storey dwelling with a covered porch that addresses the street and forms a sociable, interstitial space.
Blackwell’s proposal merges abstractions of traditional and modern architecture in search of a more resonant and robust new whole. The starting point is a traditional New Orleans house type - the long, narrow shotgun house - which is cut in half and stacked up to form an elevated, two-storey dwelling.
At ground level, the volume of the house shelters a garage and a stoop that functions as a traditional street-level porch. An entrance staircase with open risers (to allow for rising and receding storm water) leads up to the main living quarters on the first floor. A dining room, kitchen, three bedrooms and a sun deck are also compactly plugged into the two storeys.
Architect Marlon Blackwell Architect, Arkansas, USA