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Design Build Pedagogy Opportunity

The proposal of a Spectacular Vernacular was not just to design a house that is both inexpensive and energy efficient for Florida's climate: we wanted to propose a way of working – a method – that could produce such a building for any client on almost any site in North Central Florida.

Furthermore, the Spectacular Vernacular was intended to be utilized as the basis for an architectural design studio at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. As a pedagogical tool, the Spectacular Vernacular would become one component (the [T]heory) in each student's design production, resulting in dozens, and eventually hundreds, of instances of the method's application in production of individually tailored design methods, all of which could produce low-cost, low-energy housing in Florida.





In the Spring of 2011, a design/build studio was planned as a collaboration between the City of High Springs, Florida and the School of Architecture at the University of Florida. Using the design principles of the Spectacular Vernacular, graduate and upper-division undergraduate students in architecture would design proposals for a low-cost single-family residence as a flagship component of the Douglass Neighborhood Planned Unit Development in High Springs.

Location of proposed site within the Douglass Neighborhood Development



For the studio, students (individually or in small groups) would apply the Spectacular Vernacular as a [T]heory component in production of a new method for housing design using the CATTt Generator. The most effective design methods for the site in High Springs would be selected through multiple experimental iterations, eventually deciding on a single method to carry through design development and the production of construction documents for the residence over the first semester of the studio. Then, students would set to work building the residence over the course of the following Srping semester, and into summer semesters if necessary, with the end result being a family from the Douglass Neighborhood purchasing and moving into the house.


It was necessary to use the CATTt Generator to produce a slightly different method experiment to respond to stakeholder reactions to the results of the initial method experiment. This time, the format needed to be tweaked to correspond to the specific [T]arget audience: the residents of High Springs and the Douglass Neighborhood in particular. Initial reactions from community members was that the proposed object looked like a spaceship or a mobile home more than a house. It was decided amongst the stakeholders that to be most appropriate for the Douglass Neighborhood, the results of the experimental method would need to be legible as a traditional Florida craftsman bungalow, a housing type historically popular in the Douglass Neighborhood and to which local residents still aspired. This change was easy to execute: the tail/tale or format for the initial results of the proposed method would need to be a Florida bungalow. The Spectacular Vernacular house for High Springs would also need to be slightly larger, as the future residents were likely to expect and need a 2 to 3 bedroom, 2 bath residence, and feature room design that seemed more program specific, even if variable program remained a key component in achieving comfort. In short, the [T]arget specificities led to more a more detailed tail/tale format, and the 5 points were fleshed out with stipulations and requirements to adapt the method experiment to the Douglass Neighborhood development.


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