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The Urban Dogtrot House

Competition Green Building Alliance Emerging Professional Finalist for: USGBC 2010 Natural Talent Design Competition


The design takes into consideration the Louisiana Arts and Crafts style within the neighborhood and the historic passive cooling strategy of the rural dogtrot present in Louisiana. By combining the two together, the resulting design is conscious of the general micro-climate of the region while being mindful of the urban fabric of the neighborhood.

Design for the Elderly

Our house that costs $97,867, and is 875 square foot offers adaptable ADA and Universal design requirements. The design of the outdoor space in the south entry disguises the view of the ADA-accessible lift. While it may not blatantly visible from the front of the house, it is easily approached for handicapped residents. Consideration is given to provide the 5-foot turning radii at the entrance, living room, kitchen, master bathroom and both bedrooms. At least 50% of the kitchen cabinetry has been designed for a 48" height, and there are clearances for both the range and sink. There is no floor level change in the interior of the house.

Adaptability and Interior Flow

The Urban Dogtrot´s open plan design offers exceptionally adaptable spaces for the elderly. The house is zoned into 2 conditioned areas - the master bedroom and the rest of the house - simplifying the cooling loads and providing energy savings. The second bedroom is designed with a sliding door that could very easily become an extension of the living room or  can also double as family room or study according to the targeted occupants' needs.  The powder room can be redesigned such that the door can open to the second bedroom or the living room. Finally, the bathroom core allows for the potential sharing of the same shower tub, a progressive concept that could make both bathrooms functional full bathrooms.

Taking advantage of the open plan the internal dog trot offers, the design features a open public living space towards the street. More private spaces are located away from the street, close to the back garden. The dog trot provides a visual cue for circulation, separating the more utilitarian kitchen space from the living room. Three outdoor decks are strategically located on the main living floor. One serving as entry to the south, one completes the dog trot while the other faces north and has access to both bedrooms.

Awareness and Education

By bringing the rural dogtrot to the urban setting, our team was able to incorporate various passive strategies to cope with the hot and humid weather.  It is important for occupants to know how to interact with the building. Often times complicated building manuals and incomprehensible building systems inhibit for proper building usage. The design team for the Urban Dogtrot firmly believes that awareness and education of energy and water savings comes from understanding how passive design can be rigorously integrated into the design solution. Once these systems are understood, active system integration strategies will be identified.

Passive Systems

In terms of natural ventilation, the Dogtrot is aligned with the predominant summer wind. The operable windows are placed such that the yearly wind patterns of the climate are taken to their optimum potential. Furthermore, as a passive ventilation strategy, we've developed a double envelope that would take advantage of the cool air from the basement plenum. This double envelope was placed on the south and west faces of the house; areas that receive the most sun in the warmest periods of the day. The tall ceiling in the living room, that reaches 16 ft at the apex of the roof, offers the possibility for stack ventilation, aided by the clerestory window and ceiling fans.

Overhangs were designed to eliminate sun from the hottest months of the year without eliminating solar heat gain in the winter. Glass block was used in the master bathroom to provide for naturally lit bathroom. All functional spaces are fully daylit. The vented attic space, crawl space, and double envelope facade on the south and west walls reduce solar gain on the opaque walls. Careful consideration to the glazing - high visual transmittance, low-e, and with a low solar heat gain coefficient further reduce solar gain.

Our water strategy includes the collection of rainwater with designated rainbarrels around the house for irrigation use. Overflows are directed to the landscaped areas. A designated raingarden area can be strategically placed in the north of the site, and medians can be integrated into the curb to reduce rainwater runoff. Plantings are strategically placed to provide shade in the northernmost area of the site; thus making it an outdoor functional space.

The smart interior layout allows for short spans for plumbing, and the bathroom core portion is designed for optimal use. All fixtures in the bathroom and kitchen would be low-flow and WaterSense certified to qualify for WE 3.2.

Active Systems

From the Energy 10 modeling of the Urban Dogtrot in comparison to a standard, code compliant house of the same size. The Urban Dogtrot consumes 22% less energy annually, equating to a HERS rating of 78. The Double Envelope system significantly reduced the cooling load in the summer while strategically placed windows reduced the need for electrical lighting during daylight hours.

In terms of HVAC, the house is properly zoned into two separate conditioning areas. By separating the master bedroom from the rest of the house, one can potentially save additional money in cooling costs. The Mitsubishi Mr. Slim Dual-zone heat pump 18-SEER rating system is connected to a dessicant dehumidification system, appropriately sized for residential use. By providing an active system that dehumidifies the air, one could potentially reduce cooling loads and provide for greater use of natural ventilation.

Rainwater harvesting is used exclusively for irrigation purposes, as current codes in New Orleans do not allow for greywater reuse inside the house. Potable water, therefore, is acquired from the main water line, and then distributed to the houses' 'wet areas,' which include the kitchen, laundry, and the bathroom core. A boiler situated strategically halfway between the kitchen and the bathroom core provides hot water to these ares.

Materials and Resources

The material for the exterior of the house were chosen to be sensitive to existing neighborhood , to be cost effective, and to be environmentally responsible. Stucco, which is a predominant cladding material use in Arts and Crafts style houses, was chosen instead of the cheaper option of vinyl siding.  In general, we avoided the use of vinyl, an unsustainable material, as much as possible.  The foundation walls are constructed out of split-face masonry units which reduce the need for additional siding and thus reducing overall cost.  Lastly , wood slats were used underneath the kitchen to allow for increased passive ventilation.  This also respects the significant amount of wood siding found within the Broadmoor neighborhood.

All of the framing material will be specified as FSC lumber.  In addition, there will be detailed framing drawings created to help reduce construction waste and create an efficient cut list for the project.

Storm Resistance

The house employs several different approaches in storm protection for glazing.  All of the double hung windows employ a rolling-wooden shutter system.  The casement windows and door at NE end of the dogtrot are protected by swinging shutters.  The main entrance doors use a roll-up storm shutter that is integrated within the depth of the framing.


New Orleans, Louisiana
United States

Competition Category Entered

Competition Details

The competition entry ID for this project is 6461.

Project Details

NAME: The Urban Dogtrot House
LOCATION: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
START DATE: January 03, 2010
CURRENT PHASE: Design development
COST: $97900 USD (Estimated)
SIZE: 875 sq. ft
PROJECT TYPE: Residential - Single Family