Our studio began this project by researching the neighborhood context of St. John: what role does housing play in this community and how can an affordable, net-zero home benefit its potential owners and the neighborhood? The studio determined St. John Faces a crisis in the availability of affordable and quality homes, which are necessary for the community to support and sustain future growth.
The studio collected data off ArcGIS from the city appraiser and St John’s 2019 census data to form conclusions on the current condition of the town and the priorities of its residents. The data identified problems that the neighborhood needed to be solved; This included quality, availability, and affordability of homes. We included multiple homes inside St. Johns, which varied in condition and age, and generated energy analyses for a monthly cost comparison. The information gathered proved that Net+ was needed for the town of St. John and for other towns facing similar problems.
St. John is in lower Kansas approximately 56 minutes from the town of Hutchinson. When families have tried to purchase a home in St. John, they have had to purchase homes sight unseen due to the lack of availability. This presents a huge problem, due to the lack of quality homes in St. John, and banks may not provide reasonable loans for the purchase. 81% of homes are below the 50% quality category, given by the city appraiser. This assessment could include bad ventilation, weak structure, plumbing issues, electrical issues, lack of insulation, poorly designed crawl spaces, inefficient and outdated systems, and lastly old materials. These things can lead to high repair costs, higher utility bills, health hazards, and may result in medical problems such as sick building syndrome.
The town of St. John has approximately 53 vacant lots at an average price of $2000 and a size of roughly 60’ x 60’. All the locations listed on our map have the potential to be homes for Net+ project and could be looked at by the city for purchase. St. John is also looking into many dilapidated homes that may need to be demolish, which could become additional lots for new Net+ homes.
The population is slowly declining within St. John. The town is attempting to reach out and bring in new individuals and families who can contribute to their community. They have the potential to grow but need a new model home for welcoming future and current residents. This discovery is how the concept of a prototype house was created. The Net+ studio and St. John have chosen to maintain a clear goal: To create a prototype home that could be placed on a variety vacant lots. Therefore, we need to include St. John in every step of our design process and be ready for changes that accomplish our aligned goal. To produce a home that can aid the modern family.