Set on the banks of the Mississippi River, civitas presents a case study for a sustainable single-family home of immense resiliency for hot, humid climates with an expected life span of more than a hundred years. It should set a precedent for Southeastern high-performance residential design with a focus on cultural, climatic, economic, and future adaptability challenges. civitas is informed by the typology of the southern dogtrot with the 21st-century infusion of materiality and technology to become zero carbon, zero energy. civitas will operate on grid during the day and off grid at night with its robust lithium battery.
The house is comprised of four components - an elevated plinth of outdoor space, a public living pavilion, a private sleeping quarters above, and a treehouse for special occasions with a city view. civitas’ durable materials will withstand the fierce river wind and rains in the summer and winter. The design approach was driven by seeking to do more with less, including using salvaged steel and recycled aluminum along with regional masonry units. Prefabricated components were used extensively including structural insulated panels for walls and roofs and cross-laminated timber for ceiling and floor. Operable scrim panels of patina aluminum are provided to filter the amount of sun allowed into the first floor while the white exterior palette provides an ever-changing hue from colored sunsets to clear blue skys.
Recognizing the value of the river, the homeowners wanted their house to give back to its neighbors with a bioswale that doubles as a community book park and setbacks to maximize views to the river. civitas represents high design with an environmental ethos—a building that connects people to place and welcomes a friendly conversation.