The new American Dream: 100K(+ 20) | Starter Home

Lot-Ek on Shipping Containers by kongchan4

Water-saving, Low CO2 emitting showerhead by ahodgson
September 17, 2008, 5:34 pm
Filed under: Social / Cultural Issue | Tags: ,

There was a small article about this product on page 16 of Architectural Products magazine…its a nifty piece of tech following the water-based theme.  The Satinjet Tahi Shower System only consumes 2.3 gallons per minute (less than half of a regular shower) and saves 350 lbs of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere.  It also comes with a thermostat and shelving and is integrated into the wall.

My research by akumontoy
September 3, 2008, 7:13 pm
Filed under: Material/Building Systems, Social / Cultural Issue

Social and cultural context of the project

The site I chose is located at 26th and Halsted.

This site is at the northern edge of the Bridgeport neighborhood, just south of Archer Avenue. Bridgeport neighborhood is located right next to both Pilsen and Chinatown.

Pilsen and Chinatown boasts a large Hispanic and Asian communities respectively, and the proximity to these two neighborhoods is reflected in the demographic diversity of the neighborhood.

Historically, Bridgeport has been a white, working class neighborhood. Population trends in the past three decades shows that ethnically, Bridgeport s becoming more and more diverse with Hispanic and Asian population being the two fastest growing ethnic group.

Go to the bottom of this page to see the population trend

The population of African-American in Bridgeport remains within the %1 range, perhaps the lingering effect of Richard J Daley’s1956 decision to move the Dan Ryan from Normal avenue to the east of Wentworth avenue. Many speculated that this was done to separate the antagonistic white and black communities, both of whose support he needed to stay in power. More info on Senior Daley’s administration

If we were to go north of the site, beyond Archer avenue, the Chicago river and several block of industrial complex, we would find ourselves in the east Pilsen neighborhood, now being marketed to the public as Chicago’s Art District. In the early sixties John Podmajersky began buying old rundown buildings in the neighborhood and converting them into gallery and studio spaces for artists. The thriving artistic communities has brought new life to the neighborhood and at the same time threaten to displace members of the community.

A number of small art galleries had opened up in different parts of Bridgeport( morgan street, Zhou brothers at 35th, and in recent years 32nd & Urban) , perhaps a residual effect of the development in Pilsen.

Building material research


Minimizing the footprint of the building increases the amount of outdoor space and possibly saves some money from the additional cost of building larger foundation. Having a larger proportion of outdoor space also increases the capacity for retaining storm water. To further increase this capacity, the house could be raised off the ground through the use of spot footing foundation or caisson/piers.

Possible complications of this approach:

Savings from the foundation could be offset by the cost of building an entire floor plane.

Maintaining plants that are growing underneath the building could be difficult depending on the height of the space.

Raised floor plane would probably need to have more insulation to prevent thermal transfer

Wall and/or roof system

Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing or PATH carries out a lot of studies on new construction methods that are available free of charge over the web.

Two construction techniques that are considered are Insulated Concrete Form or ICF and Structural Insulated Panels.

After going through a couple of studies, I find that this ICF case study and this SIPs case study to be most helpful in terms of giving a general sense of the materials.

These two construction technique are considered because of several advantages over stick-built or masonry construction

  1. The thermal performance of both ICF and SIPs are far superior to stick-built or masonry construction both claimed to cut down the utility cost by %40 to %70.
  2. Simplification of the construction sequence, hence less mistake and waste would be produced
  3. The system can be prefabricated by the manufacturer which means less time spent on adjusting mistakes on-site.
  4. Both technique have been around for at least two decades, hence the performance of the material and technique has at least been proven to last that long.




2.5 times of similar sized stick-built wall,(increase in total cost of house by %1-%3)

Material cost alone ranges from $7.50 -$14 psf depending on thickness, core board material. (expensive)

Construction time

Roughly the same as stick construction, but simpler(curing time for concrete)

Faster erection of enclosed structure


Insignificant saving

Significant saving in labor hours

Number of supplier in IL

8 according to ICFA

none, 1 in MI 1 in WI according to SIPA

Note on SIPS : core material could be expanded polystyrene (EPS) or polyurethane (PUR). PUR is superior in terms of R-value and fire resistance (link).

This discussion on the composition of SIPs panel is quite informative.

Both these construction technique would create a structure that is much more air-tight than other construction method. However air-tightness makes it difficult for any moisture to escape and mold could grow within the structure itself.

Food Prices by cslota
September 3, 2008, 7:05 pm
Filed under: Social / Cultural Issue | Tags:

The price of food has increased dramatically withing the past few years wordwide, some food items doubling in price within the past two years. One of the main reasons is the price of oil which affects the cost of bot international and national trasport of food. Average meals travel 1,500 miles to your plate. It also affects the cost of fertilizer which is a petrolium-based product. Climate change has spurred inconsistent and radical weather that has caused droughts and floods, ruining crops. Many riots have broken out worldwide against the price of food, and global security is at risk.

Another reason is the United States offers subsidies to farmers for the production of biofuels such as ethanol. This has motivated farmers to switch their focus from a food-based crop to a fuel crop. In 2007, biofuels took up one-third of the US’s maize harvest. Higher grain prices have also forced farmers to clear more forests to be able to grow more maize. Pork products have increased in price because the grain needed to feed them has increased in price.

The higher cost of food and oil is instigating new ways for people worldwide to think about how to obtain food, such as growing their own food privately to reduce dependence on commericial food and to reduce the amount of oil used to transport their food. Other ideas include Vertical Farming which would harvest crops in a sort of high-rise fashion in a controlled environment year-round, reducing dependence on nature’s rain and soil. This project could be also adapted into urban environments.

Philippines by kongchan4
September 3, 2008, 6:29 pm
Filed under: Social / Cultural Issue, Uncategorized | Tags: ,
Philippines in Figures
 Population (August 2007) 88.57M
 Projected Population (2008) 90.46M
 Inflation Rate (July 2008) 12.2%
 Balance of Trade (June 2008) $-791M
 Exports (June 2008) $4.513B
 Imports (June 2008) $5.305B
 Unemployment (April 2008) 8.0%
 Underemployment (April 2008) 19.8%
 Simple Literacy (2000) 92.3%
 Functional Literacy (2003) 84%
 Average Family Income (2006) P173,000
 GNP (Q1 2008) P1,860.7B
 GDP (Q1 2008) P1,684.6B

Average family income PI: P173,000 which converts to $3, 714
Average family income US: $50, 233


Solar Energy PPT by nataliemikosz

This is a PowerPoint Presentation titled “The Power of the Sun” that a team, including myself, completed for a course on Global Warming.  It pertains primarily to solar energy and how we can use it; as well as looking at a case study home in Idaho that is completely energy independent.  After looking at this we take a look at your average single family home and compare costs.  We also briefly address other types of renewable energies, such as wind and geothermal power. 

Click here to view the powerpoint: The Power of the Sun

Rural Studio by joelzook
September 3, 2008, 4:13 pm
Filed under: precedents, Social / Cultural Issue
Glass Chapel, Rural Studio

Rural Studio provides students a Auburn the opportunity to design and build homes and community buildings for impoverished people in Mississippi. Working on extremely tight budgets (current projects include a $20k house), they find a way to make simple decent

Glass Chapel, Rural Studio

housing for those who would otherwise have very few options. Many of their materials were salvaged from previous buildings or post industrial use. For example, one house uses leftover carpet remnants staked on top of each other essentially creating a highly insulative “masonry” wall. Another project uses dozens of car windshields as rain screen for a chapel and community center. There are two books in the GRC on Rural Studio and Auburns official site can be found here.