This school year, our studio team is on the exciting task of building a net-positive house at the city of St. John, Kansas. But before anybody could begin drawing, a visit to the town was necessary. We took our notebooks and best pens with us as our journey began early that morning.
The Executive Director at Stafford County Economic Development, Carolyn Dunn, was our guide for the trip. When we first met her, she began by explaining the housing situation at St. John. Things such as housing prices, the regular income of most people in town, and household transportation were introduced. During lunch, we met with more residents of the town to have a clearer understanding of their living situation, which later aided our design ideas. One exciting aspect of the trip was to survey our potential sites for this new house and a tour of the small town that has welcomed us with open arms.
To find some inspiration for the future Net-Zero house, we went to visit a LEED platinum building a few miles away from St. John, nearby The Big Well Museum. It was a great experience for us to explore the historic structure turned art exposition space. We learned about some of its passive and active strategies to improve energy efficiency. We were even able to climb up to the roof to have a better understanding of the design.
Meeting the residents of St John and driving around the town was a valuable experience for the entire studio. It was a small, but important, step into getting familiar with the big project ahead of us.