Miami Green Homes


Design after COVID 19. How the virus may affect architectural design for the home – Part II: work, friends, and family

There is no doubt that the “after” will bring with it some changes and lasting adjustments. After looking at how the home needs to adapt for our personal use, what changes may be needed for work from home and visiting friends and family?

In the home – Part II:

The first part of this question is relatively easy: “Remote work from home” now includes some area with a computer setup that has a reasonably clear background for video calls and conferences. Few homes are designed with an extra room or space with this function in mind, so there is another change that will be forthcoming for future design. A home office or home office nook will be a feature that will be standard in post COVID-19 residential design. Even for professions that do not need this setup for their basic livelihood, the feature is sure to become a standard, much like the entry foyer noted in the related post, in the home Part I. Beyond work, this area can be used for a new type of happy hour, remote classrooms and other social interactions. But what about multiple people working or learning from home in the same schedule? To create a home office space for each family member is not feasible, so creative partitions with sound isolation may be the answer.

Built-In Home Office Ideas by Paul Raff Studio

Integrated Home Office Design

Creating an office nook can present a solution to carve out space in an easy arrangement and configuration to shield from view and sound. Similar to an open studio setup, multiple stations may be created in this fashion. Designating an existing room, where possible, allows for more functional use and setup but may be especially challenging for renovations and existing homes that look to adapt. After all, most homes were not designed with a spare room for future use adaption in mind, a concept that will likely change in new design thinking – adaptability!

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Front Entry to the Left, Office Nook to the Right

The challenge with creating a small space or using an existing room within the home however, lies with the psychological burnout, that is showing up in many workers already who are being “on” all the time. The kitchen becomes the breakroom to fill up on coffee, the living room reminds of the chores that are typically left for the end of the workday and the school books on the dining table remind of homework and classes that need attending to. The 8-hour workday stretched to 10 hours, to 12 hours, and blends with the home life. The workday itself is now part of the design challenge.

A better design solution is to revisit the home office space as a separate structure that allows for a mini commute, by taking a few steps into the office and when at lunch or at the end of the day returning to the home. Planning and zoning codes will need to change and adapt, to allow for this to happen. Auxiliary structures are already allowed under most zoning codes, but property size may restrict this function due to requirements for building separation, connectivity, and setbacks.

Let’s return to the design opportunity of the home office as a separate structure: Former site design program choices such as pool cabanas, covered BBQs, granny flats, or storage sheds now present the opportunity to create the at-home office studio instead. The design should be complete with a kitchenette to include the coffee maker, sink and a small refrigerator, etc. as well as a bathroom. This function can be accommodated within a fairly small footprint, 10’x 12’ to start. If more space is available, multiple stations for all members of the family, as well as a meeting area or miniature conference room may complete the layout.

Garden office ideas – garden office pods and garden office sheds ...

The work from home studio would likely be connected to the home with an open covered walkway and allow for independent direct access for clients and visitors from the outside. The home office transforms into a true work from home set up, and at the end of the day, the commute also reduces the carbon footprint!

Prefabricated design solutions provide a great opportunity for quick installation, rather than lengthy construction, as these spaces have urgent need. Design options are growing in this industry, including modern solutions, like the Coodo.

coodo

What about friends and family? The Home office studio ideally should not become the weekend hangout to maintain a dis-association form the work week. Instead, the transition into the home for visitors should start at the foyer, as noted for the personal use in Part I. Just like for our own use, this space will function as a transitional area that allows for an initial disinfecting and reduction of the viral load that comes into the home. Removing shoes should become standard as is already common practice in many cultures around the world. The focus now, however, is on minimizing the introduction of foreign particles. An integrated shoe storage compartment in the foyer will facilitate this process. Hand sanitizing stations and even a small sink may be items that are incorporated into the design. The latter will most certainly be part of the mudroom transitional space on larger homes that feature a garage. This access point, however, is unlikely to be used for friends and family.

Once the initial shedding has been completed more spacious furniture arrangements to allow for groups to maintain a small degree of physical distancing will influence future designs to create overall larger spaces. The need to fill these rooms with a lot of furniture should be balanced with the function and anticipation of people other than the immediate family. If the in-laws visit frequently or the home is the go-to spot for the crew to watch the game, keep it open and spacious.

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Foyer with Powder Room

Already a popular design feature, the powder room will become an important post-COVIT element for families that have frequent visitors. The private bathrooms need to remain just that – private to avoid contamination. The solution is to provide a half-bathroom near the general living areas. Depending on the layout and adjacent functions, this room may expand to include a shower if connecting to the outside or other uses of the home and yard. The powder room should include a small changing area, think mini locker room, that double serves as guest storage and is large enough to comfortably allow for a change of clothes. Ideally, the location is in close proximity to the foyer as well.

Lastly, the space every party always ends up at. The kitchen! Already a focal point in the home for daily use, this is the spot that inevitably any group ends up at some point. To avoid close quarters, the center island, already a popular feature in larger homes will become the single most important post-COVIT-19 design feature. An accessible island without a cooktop or sink provides an excellent workstation during normal use, easily extends to include informal seating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and maintains good physical distance for gatherings – the larger the counter, the better.

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Oversized Kitchen Island with Integrated lower seating counter – classic design style

Inspired to adapt your space or design your new homes yet?

www.SebastianEilert.com



Design after COVID 19. How the virus may affect architectural design for the home, Part I

There is no doubt that the “after” will bring with it some changes and lasting adjustments. After looking at how the office and office culture are likely affected, what do changes to the home may look like?

In the home – Part I:

“Shelter in place” and “remote work from home” are certainly familiar terms these days. But how does this cozy space need to change to continue to be the safe haven we all seek? The answer is linked to our daily use of familiar areas and activities.

Let’s start with the approach. Coming from the outside world; work, shopping, exercise, etc. into the home in South Florida its likely done by car. If you are lucky to have a garage, that will be the point of first contact. Otherwise, the front door will serve as this space. Technology is already widely available to assist with remote unlocking and opening, so the touchless entry is already safe and will likely expand into a standard feature. Materials used for hardware will also change to reflect easy cleaning and disinfecting. More apps are likely to make the transition from the approach into the house easy, sensor-based, and even remote.

The next space is the actual entrance. South Florida rarely features a true foyer as commonly found in northern regions. The main reason for this architecturally speaking is the lack of need to keep the cold out and shed all clothing relating to severe or unpleasant weather. This too will change by design. No longer concerned only with air condition leaking to the outside, the entrance vestibule or foyer will find its way into the updated post COVIT-19 designed home. This can be new or retrofit to create the buffer needed to bring items from the outside into the home and transition out of protective clothing as well as provide a first layer for viral shedding and reduced transmittal of possible contaminants. Doormats, filters, and UV cabinets for certain clothing may look futuristic but are likely to be integrated here with new materials and will take up some of this space.

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Mudroom transition from the garage into the house.

In more spacious homes this room may also be added as an interface between the garage and the house. Already a popular feature in new home design, the mud-room – a transitional space between garage and kitchen or pantry – no longer will be used for backpacks, school supplies, and large shopping trips only. It will now include a disinfection station and for front line workers, may include a disposable section, similar to a sharps or biohazard removal container setup.

Once inside the home, personal interactions will also be guided by hands-free decisions and upgrades. Appliances, light control, sound systems, faucets, showers, etc., are already integrating these features. More is sure to come, combing voice and motion activation. Think about your favorite Spaceship Enterprise stage setup…

Rain Shower Set System 20" x 14" with Touch Panel Smart Mixer and Remote Controlled LED - VAVALA Vavala FLUXURIE.COM

Free access – modern voice-command controlled shower

Lounging in the living area, working in the designated home station (look for part II B on more for this feature), or getting the well-deserved shut-eye are areas of personal use that should not change a great deal from current design preferences. The 2 most impacted areas are the bathroom and the kitchen. Following a typical daily routine, the first step once rolling out of bed, having told the alarm to stop ringing, would be the use of the toilet. Touch unavoidable by sitting down, but “clean-up” is changing. Besides the paranoia of purchasing toilet paper, there is no real need for this ancient relic in the post COVIT design. Paperless cleansing toilet seats do not just eliminate the need for paper, but will also reduce the need for touch; flushing voice active as well.

Touchless Toilet Seat Covers : Toilet Seat covers

The bathroom sink will also be touchless or voice-activated and will likely include some UV lighting to further incorporate disinfecting. This is more important upon the noted return to the home above, but will become a standard feature in the near future. Next is the shower, again simple already in place solutions for turning on/off, regulating temperature and pressure. Accessibility is likely to be the big winner not just though incorporating commands, but also by the increase in space to avoid tight areas more likely to touch someone or something, think shower curtains, versus a nice roll-in shower.

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Doorless shower access. Enlarged shower for easy access

On to the kitchen: The kitchen counter is already typically a biohazard, no matter how well it is maintained. We use it daily and materials will change to be both user friendly and sanitary. Microbial cutting surfaces and disinfectant under cabinet light are good choices. The fridge, appliances, and cooktops all will be retrofitted with voice commands and contribute to the touchless function of the kitchen space. Eating will hopefully still be manual !

10 Best Under Cabinet LED Lighting - (2020 Reviews & Guide)

With this increase in technology, reliable power and data will become paramount. An increased energy demand can be offset with photovoltaic systems and supported by other renewable energy resources. A designated server space will also find its way int the post COVID designed home, maybe with a pantry or otherwise near the kitchen for easy access.

With so many integrated features to make one s life better, how do we now interact with others inside the home? Look for part II about the family group, friends and family visiting, and the work at home environment.

Sebastian Eilert, AIA

PS: Side note about the daily routine. A great read I found is “A Million Years In A Day” by Greg Jenner, following the history of many of the daily routines and chores done in the home.



6 Sustainable Home Renovation Tips to Improve Your Fixer-Upper, guest post by Ray Flynn
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Photo via Pexels

When planned correctly, buying a fixer-upper can help you save money while creating the house of your dreams. You’re sure to have a few expectations and ideas about how you want your house to turn out, but where do you start? Try taking a sustainable approach to your home improvements so you can reduce your energy usage and feel good about your environmental footprint. If you’re looking for ways to keep your home renovations green, this article is for you!

Use Steel to Create Additional Space

If you’ve found the perfect house but it’s lacking storage space or that workshop you’ve always dreamed of, consider adding an external garage. A separate storage area can help you cut down on clutter inside the house, give you a place to store yard equipment, and protect your car from the elements. Whatever you need the space for, consider using steel as your building material — it’s cheap, versatile, easy to work with, and durable. Plus, steel is a highly sustainable material because it can be recycled almost endlessly. Consider insulating the building to protect your car from extreme temperatures and adding a few windows to light your garage naturally.

Choose Renewable Flooring Materials

Most fixer-uppers could benefit from new flooring. If you’re hoping to replace that dated carpet with sleek, bare floors, choose sustainable materials. Cork, for example, can be harvested without cutting down the cork tree, making it the perfect green choice for your floors. As an added bonus, cork is naturally insect-repellant and fire resistant. Bamboo is another great eco-friendly option if you’re looking to mimic the look of real hardwood floors. Alternatively, you can find reclaimed wooden boards from old houses to recycle into your own beautiful floors.

Avoid Harmful Paints

Conventional paints can leach harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air for up to five years. These compounds are bad for both the environment and your family’s health. When it’s time to upgrade your walls, opt for eco-friendly paint. The Spruce recommends looking for paints labeled as low VOC or zero VOC. Even better, choose paints made from natural ingredients like water, plant dyes, chalk, and resins.

Upgrade Your Kitchen with Recycled Counters

Making minor upgrades to your kitchen is a great way to increase your property value and help your house appear modern on a small budget. Paint your cabinets, replace the floor, and upgrade the hardware. If your countertops are in bad shape, consider replacing them with recycled work surfaces. You can get fun, accent countertops made from recycled glass in concrete or resin. On the other hand, butcher-block style countertops made from old boards are a rustic and homey option to consider.

Optimize Natural Light

Taking advantage of natural light in your home can cut down on your electricity bills and even help your home feel more spacious. Consider installing larger windows in your living room or an entire glass sliding door to open up your home to your backyard and let in more light. Painting your walls in light colors and adding decorative mirrors will also help brighten up your rooms. Real Homes recommends installing skylights since these can easily be incorporated into a variety of roof types. Skylight windows let in significantly more light than side windows and can completely eliminate your need to use electrical lights during the day.

Install Green Appliances

Most old appliances burn through electricity at a surprising rate. Replacing outdated appliances with new, eco-friendly options can help your fixer-upper look more attractive to today’s environmentally minded homebuyers. Plus, energy-efficient appliances will save you a lot of money while you’re living in the home. However, ensure you choose matching appliances for your kitchen to give it a polished look.

When you buy a house that needs some work, you have the power to turn it into your perfect sanctuary. Whether that means creating a separate workshop in the backyard for your hobbies or letting sunshine flood into your living room, these custom improvements can really make your house feel like home. Maintain a sustainable approach while making your renovations to save money on energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

Ray Flynn | DiyGuys.net

ray.flynn@diyguys.net



Architects as day-to-day activists, not just design stars:

Few architects will reach stardom in their carrier or their life. The ones that do have typically been blessed by a unique commission that allowed them to truly and freely feature their skills resulting in a spectacular structure. Frequently these structures are of a public or high profile private nature, such as museums, signature buildings or government functions.

activist

Activistarchitect.blogspot.com

Most architects work on more day to day projects that do not come with glamour, but still have a severe impact: A home renovation or new home design directly affects the lives of the family that is living in it; a new restaurant provides a place of business, employment and entertainment; a supermarket becomes the key to growth of a neighborhood;

The impact of the architect on daily life cannot be overstated. Designs create, in a reasonable timeframe, a place or building that has the capacity to influence history – large or small. Good design choice can and should make statements to encourage underlying principles of good living and good communities. Incorporating a certain feature over another has the potential to shape the future path of an individual, being it a resident, business owner, worker, tenant… or just someone passing by. Look at architecture and design as opportunities for good, not just to the specific client, but the neighborhood, the community and even the planet. Everyone, every project matters!

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The Role(s) of the Architects – what we really do

 

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Let’s keep the role and influence of the individual architect a little reasonable and in perspective here. There are so many varying aspects of architecture employment. Few actually design, especially design all the time. Most are executing some sort construction documents or other legal text relevant to the building at hand, research materials or local building and zoning code. When design actually happens, it is a very rewarding for most. So design, as conceived as the main role of the architect by the public, is in fact a rather small aspect of the overall practice.

In general the role of the licensed architect, is to orchestrate a number of parts required for the project into a coherent fashion to the success of said project. Like the CEO of a company, the architect is the leader of the project. This holds true during the planning and design phases, and shifts during the actual construction phase. Here the architect takes an observatory role, rather than a leading role within the project team.

What are the typical parts of a design team? Every project is a little different, but most include the owner, the client, a group of engineers and the staff of the architect itself.

Beyond leading the above noted project, there are many roles within an architectural practice. Like any business, staff relating to the legal operation, such as accounting, marketing, etc. are required but may be considered elsewhere. As for the actual architectural breakdown, here are key positions within an architectural firm. The big three are:

Draftsperson and production staff are generally operating software to literally produce the drawings that communicate the design intent and any details required for construction. This used to be hand drafting, but those days are long gone.  Largest portion of the architectural practice, consumes the most time.

Designer – coveted spot. Actually design the project. Most creative and theoretic aspect of architecture.

Project manager – little design, lots of production, lots of research and written texts. Overall understanding of project, contracts, coordination with others. Most engaging portion of the practice.



Best Miami Residential Architects list, March 2018 – ELA Studio/SEA @ #5

Excellent reference list by Miami Architects for their best residential architects list.

Thank you for the recognition. This is a great list with many esteemed colleagues. I am blessed and proud to be among them. Our quality and team approach really make every project great!

http://www.miamiarchitect.org/the-best-residential-architects-in-miami/

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Ready to start your own project journey with ELA Studio?



The Benefits Of Going Solar At Home – Guest post by Ryan McNeill

It’s official: Renewable energy is now the average American’s preferred energy solution, regardless of which side of the political spectrum they are on — and few renewable energy options are more accessible to the homeowner than installing solar panels.

The popularity of solar is skyrocketing, accounting for nearly four in 10 new electricity generation capacity additions in the U.S. last year. While utility solar accounts for a large portion of this new infrastructure, residential solar is also showing strong growth as more homeowners are realizing the many benefits of solar energy.

Why are so many homeowners going solar? Let’s take a look.

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Economic Benefits of Installing Solar Panels

Once cost-prohibitive, solar energy is now more affordable than ever. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Economy of scale. Due to increased demand, the cost of solar panels is now half what it was in 2008, and experts believe it still has room to drop.
  • Low maintenance. A high-quality residential solar installation can be expected to last 30 years or more. Very little maintenance is required, which keeps costs low throughout the life of the system.
  • Energy savings. Solar pays back big over time. The average solar customer saves $67,000 over the lifetime of the system — and that’s at today’s energy rates. Who knows what the savings will be as aging conventional energy infrastructure drives energy rates up in years to come?
  • Financing. Solar is an investment, but it doesn’t have to be a painful one. In addition to the energy-saving ROI of the panels themselves, there are many options available these days that make solar panels affordable to the average homeowner. Some of these include rebates, leases and low-interest financing options. Don’t forget that homeowners can still take advantage of the full 30 percent federal solar tax credit through the end of 2019.

Solar Performance Means Peace of Mind

Besides the obvious financial benefits, solar will set your mind at ease. Solar panels are remarkably reliable, cranking out electricity as regularly as the rising and setting sun. They are safe, too, producing no noise pollution or harmful emissions. And, many solar homeowners rave about the sense of liberation they feel when realizing they are no longer subject to the whim of “Big Power.” Those who own battery systems are even secure from interruptions to the power grid.

Global Benefits of Residential Solar

Choosing solar is simply the responsible thing to do, both for the planet and for the communities in which we live.

First, consider the environmental benefits. We all know the impact global warming is having on the planet, and that solar panels are a huge step in the right direction when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint. However, you might not be aware that solar panels are also water-friendly. Per kWh of electricity, solar panels consume 16-20 times less of this increasingly precious natural resource than the most common conventional forms of electricity generation.

Solar is good for people, too. Dollar for dollar, an investment in solar results in twice the job creation as conventional energy sources. And, solar is an important factor in homeland security. Solar panels reduce dependence on foreign energy, reduce the electrical grid’s vulnerability to attack or failure, and provide an excellent source of power in emergency situations.

Is Solar Right for Your Home?

While not every home is suitable for solar, the benefits are clear for those that are. It’s no wonder so many more people than ever are choosing to install solar panels on their homes.

Author bio: Ryan McNeill is the president of Renewable Energy Corporation, one of the largest residential solar energy companies in the mid-Atlantic region. It is committed to providing homeowners with high-quality, American-made solar panels and solar energy products.