Not an econ or markets piece, but I have a soft spot for living small (and well)…
From the Record:
Hired to design a house in Jersey City, architects Nicole Robertson and Richard Garber faced a tight budget and an even tighter space: a building lot that was only 23 feet wide and 56 feet deep.
And the owner wanted the home to be low-maintenance and environmentally sustainable.
The two solved these problems with a two-bedroom house that combines solar panels, precast concrete and cedar in a geometric shape that cuts energy costs by an estimated 30 percent. It also allows for abundant light and breezes — as well as views of the Statue of Liberty — through large windows.
“It’s a concrete house, basically,” said Garber, who also teaches at the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s architecture school.
Garber and Robertson, a married couple who live in Jersey City and are partners in the New York architecture firm GRO Architects, were recently honored by the American Institute of Architects’ New Jersey chapter for the home. Judges called it “inventive with a limited budget”; the 1,600-square-foot home was built for $250,000.
When the client, Denis Carpenter, approached the pair, he had only a few requirements: the house had to fit his budget, be environmentally sustainable and include a cat door. The architects started by designing a triangular roof facing south, covered with solar panels and tipped 30 degrees to catch the sunlight. With tax incentives and energy savings, the solar panels are expected to pay for themselves within about five years, the architects say.
Another major energy gain came from the use of insulated concrete, which provides a tight envelope around the house. Rather than try to use poured concrete at the site — which is expensive and labor-intensive — Robertson and Garber decided to use precast concrete panels that could be shipped to the site and welded together in place.
The house is in the Greenville neighborhood, next to a tiny, derelict park and a couple of blocks from the light rail tracks. New houses are mixed in with older homes throughout the neighborhood, part of the widespread revitalization of the city in recent years.
The architects see their house as part of that revitalization, and hope it can be a prototype for low-cost, energy-efficient urban infill development.
“We see it as an alternative to a lot of urban frame houses that are less durable,” Robertson said.