306 W. Waldburg

306 W. Waldburg, Svannah, Georgia, Trident Group
Construction year: 2013
Address: 306 W. Waldburg St. | SAVANNAH-GEORGIA | United States
Latitude/Longitude: 32.066786, -81.100511

Objective: This project was intended to challenge current practices of traditional design within the context of Savannah’s Historic Victorian District by properly blending historically compatible proportions, scale, and materiality of the existing neighborhood with innovative sustainability techniques.

This strategy, while not replicating the original designs found within the neighborhood context, adds new architectural elements and materials in either the same or a closely related style, sustaining a sense of continuity within the height, mass, scale, and materiality of the existing historical fabric. The intention is to achieve a balance between differentiation and compatibility within the immediate context, as not to mimic in order to properly respect. (National Historic Trust Guidelines)

Subject: The previously unoccupied one-tenth of an acre lot is now a showcase to how modern sustainability can be comfortably melded with the quaintness of neighboring Victorian homes, while still being affordable and elegantly managing the demands of a young family of four. This contemporary project is a snapshot in history for the innovative potential of modern building techniques. It serves as another successful addition to a section of Savannah’s diverse context of historical architecture that has previously been unmaintained.

The Challenge:

a) Respecting the existing historic fabric of the neighborhood while creating a newly built home that minimizes its impact on energy and water demands of the city infrastructure.

b) Designing and building a new single-family home that is sustainable and aesthetically pleasing while still being able to compete in the local housing market.

Design Solution:

A. The “floating box” imagery of the architectural form takes its proportion, height and scale from the historical neighborhood vernacular and context, while using historically compatible materials in a modern, minimalistic style. A combination of water and reduction strategies, energy producing technology, and low-impact material selection were used to help the project to be 70% more resourceful than current new construction practices for single-family residences, while earning LEED for Homes Platinum certification.

B. The realization of this project was achieved by early collaboration between the owner, architect, designer, and contractors during the initial stages of the design and planning process. This allowed for a specific modernist aesthetic and sustainability details to be achieved in a trade market where traditional, mainstream techniques are commonly practiced.

Site and settings: A strategically organized site design for the vacant (infill) lot led to the building being placed in the south-western corner of the property to allow for a spacious side yard, along with a garden space to be situated between the main house and the carriage house that abuts the lane in the rear of the property. This design was influenced by a classic design strategy that has been used throughout Savannah’s history to optimize on maximum space used within the site. This concept also promotes self-sufficiency through the use of homegrown foods produced throughout the edible and local landscaping, while still allowing for potential future expansions of the residence.

Masonry and wood use: Extra brick, which were remnants of the previous building that once stood on the lot, were repurposed as landscape pavers throughout the property. The exterior cladding of the building consists of a combination of regionally sourced HardiPanel siding and Taylor Clay Brick, reflecting the qualities of the historical materials used throughout the existing neighborhood. The interior walls were surfaced with 100 percent recycled drywall that was sourced within 500 miles of the project location. Locally sourced pine was used to manufacture the interior stair treads, trusses, and decking used throughout the project, while rapidly renewable bamboo flooring was installed on the second floor.

Scale and proportions: The architectural form of the project’s “floating box” imagery was consciously designed to complement the scale and proportion of the surrounding buildings. The open side yard is celebrated within the neighborhood by allowing for nature to exist within the urban landscape, while also bringing sunlight deeper into the central portions of the dense fabric.

The project was intended to illustrate how the existing vernacular and design restrictions of Savannah’s national historic district can be successfully interjected with high-performance building practices and innovative sustainability techniques.

In order to maximize the sustainable potential of the project, it was crucial for the architects and design team to work closely with contractor. Early in the planning stage, 2×6 framing at 24 inches on-center was decided upon to reduce the necessary volume of framing lumber without sacrificing the structural integrity of a building situated in a region prevalent to hurricanes.

Glazing was minimized on the west façade of the building to reduce unwanted solar infiltration, while larger glazing along with east façade is shaded to allow for proper control of indirect sunlight.

On the roof, a 3-kilowatt Sunpower solar array helps produce energy for the building. During the day, the panels supply energy to the downtown grid and at night it reuses the energy when occupancy demands it. Underneath, GAF modified bituminous roofing with GAF EnergryStar white coating, reduces the intense solar gain caused by conventional asphalt roofing materials.

The HVAC system contains a 20 SEER Infinity Heat Pump with GreenSpeed, RenewAire ERV, and central dehumidification mode to keep the house economically and efficiently warm during the winter months and cool and dry during summer months.

306 W. Waldburg is 70% more efficient than a traditional home and is able to reduce building water use by over 50%. It received a LEED-H Platinum certification, a HERS rating of 32, and is 3rd party green rated.

Architect: Paul McKeever, AIA
Size: 1988 sf
Budget: $150/sf

Contributed by Trident Sustainability Group

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