Urban Infill Architecture that Doesn’t Suck
The late 19th and early 20th centuries were boom times for urban architecture in America. Street after street sprouted up with rowhouses, townhouses, brownstones and other medium-density architecture. These were solid, sensibly-sized, one-to-three family, logically-laid-out brick structures, many of which still stand today. But in many cities these houses fell into disrepair, leaving semi-ghosted neighborhoods with empty lots and derelict buildings. Often, these lots became/become the victim of infill architecture. In general, infill architecture can seem like an exercise in carelessness and making a quick buck, being cheaply made and ugly both in its own right and uglier still in relation to its neighborhood’s context. That’s why Postgreen Homes is so refreshing. For the last six years, the Philadelphia developer has been cranking out innovative, attractive, affordable and energy-efficient infill architecture.
Postgreen founder Chad Ludeman hit the ground running in 2009, with the “100K House” a 1100 sq ft, LEED platinum certified townhouse that only cost about $100,000 to build (hard material costs only). The project won the US Green Building Council’s 2010 House of the Year. They built a number of subsequent projects such as the 120K house (a little more expensive), just adjacent to the 100K House and the Skinny House (actually three houses in a row), which could fit into a lot as narrow as 13 ft wide, yet still felt quite spacious and airy. In recent years, their homes and projects such as the awesomely-name “Awesometown” or “Duplexcellence II,” look slightly more conventional than the first projects, but they still manage to keep things compact, design-centric, eco-friendly and amazingly affordable. The majority of their homes sell for less than $350K, which includes the cost of land.
Postgreen is able to make their homes so cheap by using simple, affordable materials as well as optimizing their designs for easy-building. For example, their homes use low-cost exteriors like corrugated steel, reclaimed brick or pre-cut standard insulated panels (SIPs), that latter cutting both labor costs and improving energy efficiency. On their Skinny House, they kept all mechanicals, plumbing and sewage in a four foot square, creating a consolidated area for the more expensive construction elements as well as leaving an open, unimpeded floorplan. Their homes seldom crest 2K sq ft and are more often around 1200, keeping overall built area to a minimum and keeping material and labor costs low.
Another key part of Postgreen’s affordability is their placement in less-expensive neighborhoods, which is a crucial part of making their innovative homes available to people who would otherwise only be able to afford fixer-uppers.
Thanks for the tip Tim!