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For New Orleans, Louisiana

A Resilient Shotgun House

Year: 2020
Duration and Role: 1 month Independent project
Typology: Contemporary Vernacular Domestic Dwelling
Location: New Orleans, USA
Total build area: 110m
²

New Orleans, Louisiana has a climate of extremes, with 50% of the land sitting below sea level. 
It is facing and predicted to face catastrophic climatic difficulties in the form of subsidence causing the ground to sink, extremely high flood risk and frequent tropical storms.

It was identified that the current major climatic problems are as follows:

  • Extremely hot summers with high solar irradiation

  • High humidity and frequent rainfall 

  • High winds from the south and east during hurricane season (June-November)

  • Tropical cyclones and frequent flooding due to low elevation

 

These elements are due to increase in the future as a result of global warming.

This project focuses on the building physics principles of Creole vernacular architecture, bioclimaticism and how they can be translated into a contemporary, resilient design to passively manage the current and future difficulties of the climate.

Specifically, the renowned vernacular ‘shotgun’ house of the 1830s was analysed and adapted for a changing climate, as it is the most common residential housing type of the city to this day.

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Report Overview

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Ventilation

The deep and thin structure utilises large windows to optimise drafts for cross-ventilation, which is the main form of cooling in the dwelling.

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Moisture Control

Locally sourced cypress wood has good permeable properties.
The U value is low (0.13W/m2- K) and the vapour permeable construction of breathable, lightweight materials allow moisture to breathe in and out during peak rainfall and points of high humidiity levels.

Night-time Cooling

Stone was chosen as a thermal mass material in order to assist night-time cooling which works in partner with cross-ventilation to clear out the heat that that is absorbed during the day. 

Protection from Rain

Designed with steep slopes and a large overhang in order to allow rainwater run off and protect the building facade. A rainwater harvesting system has been introduced in order to minimise the effect of flooding and help to desaturate the soil through recharge pits on the ground where the surface water is directed into an underground tank.

Shading

The porch generates shady spaces during the day-time and spaces protected from the cold, damp air at night. It is typical of the creole vernacular style and has been proven of high importance for social interaction on the streets and an good space for relaxing as it collects a constant breeze. 

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Radiation

The roof and walls are light-weight and painted bright colours in order to avoid absorption of radiation.

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Protection from Radiation, Wind and Rain

Trees are strategically placed in the south and east with enough space to faciliate efficient natural ventilation to the building. Use of deciduous trees means the leaves will shed during the winter when there is higher a demand for solar benefits and they also help with surface water absorption in response to high floods.

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Protection from Wind and Glare

The use of shutters can provide protection from high winds and also unwanted glare for adaptive visual and thermal comfort.

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Elevation

Via concrete or masonry piers, in order to protect from flooding, insects and small animals, to allow permeability and breeze during hurricane season.

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