Housing affordability remains one of our country’s greatest challenges and is compounded by decreasing construction efficiency and increasing energy costs. While this problem exists throughout the United States, there is no place where it is more apparent than in the remote northern and southern border regions. Here, our Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel, living hundreds of miles from the nearest resources and often with families and low incomes, cannot find quality, affordable housing.
Garrison Architects was commissioned by GSA to develop rapidly deployable and high quality prototypes for a national housing program to serve the CBP. Our goal was to create a new standard for home production that optimizes design quality, life cycle durability, production efficiency, energy efficiency, and economics.
Through extensive research, we subjected every component of the contemporary house to life cycle analysis to determine the relationship between value and performance. We considered affordable and durable materials, finishes, and systems to extend the lifespan of typical residential construction. We explored industrialized building techniques with regard to market availability, quality, and cost. To respond to the particular needs of the geographic locations, we considered the solar orientation required for energy optimization, and the use of passive design systems to control heat gain and loss within different climates.
Focusing on light-filled, open spaces, the resulting prototypes are simple and contemporary and, despite being modest in size, feel spatially generous. The houses include ample equipment vestibules and porches, garages and storage, and employ systems and details chosen for easy replacement and maximum durability. Their flexible design allows for individual placement or attached formations to create medium density enclaves that provide security as they conserve open space. The prototypes are capable of energy neutrality with minimal alternative energy sources.