As the sloping metal roofs of this bungalow and its detached garage meet over an intimate enclosed courtyard, its half-scissor trusses and tri-tone cement board exterior clearly state: “Architects were here.”
Yet as one considers the rough surrounding neighborhood, where most of the houses have either fallen on hard times or been demolished entirely, that statement turns into a question: “But how did they get here?”
The 1,300-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath house is a Habitat for Humanity prototype designed by principal Josh Shelton, AIA, and project architects Brandon Froelich and Steve Salzer, AIA, of the Kansas City, Mo.–based firm El Dorado, and built by Kansas City, Kan.–based Heartland Habitat for Humanity on the Kansas side of the border.
The partnership between the Kansas Citians wasn’t without a learning curve. “We are all about simple and affordable,” says Heartland Habitat’s president and chief executive officer Tom Lally. “El Dorado learned our process, needs, and desired outcomes, and we learned a tremendous amount from them.”
What Shelton observed of Heartland Habitat’s standard attached-garage plan was how the layout of the houses could influence family dynamics. “It has two basement bedrooms and one on the main level,” he says. “It makes sense from a cost standpoint but it’s difficult, especially for a single mom.”
“This was a major experiment, and it was a real risk for Heartland,” Shelton says. “We’ve worked with severe budgets before, but designing with volunteer labor in mind was something new for us.”
Project Habitat for Humanity Prototype, Kansas City, Kan.
Client Heartland Habitat for Humanity
Architect El Dorado, Kansas City, Mo.—Josh Shelton, AIA (principal architect); Steve Salzer, AIA, Brandon Froelich (project architects)
Structural Engineer Bob D. Campbell & Co.
Electrical Engineer PKMR Engineering
Construction Manager Heartland Habitat for Humanity—Steve Thompson (vice president of construction & project management)
General Contractor Heartland Habitat for Humanity—Matt Trusty (site supervisor)
Size 1,300 square feet (excluding garage)