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There exist a multitude of problems within the United States housing market. First is a lack of affordability. Forty-two percent of Americans cannot afford to purchase a home (Savage, 2009). Many households devote more than 50% of their income to paying for housing (Quigley & Raphael, 2004). Also, families with lower incomes will pay a higher rate of interest to purchase a residence (O'Hara & Short, 2008). Second is a lack of suitability. Residences often fail to meet the needs of their occupants because they are built by developers from stock plans designed for an old version of America: post-World War II households, which were young and white with a housekeeping mother, a working father, and three children (Hayden, 2002). This outdated vision of American life does not represent the present reality of our diverse society. The ideal home is one built with the occupants' needs in mind and as a direct reflection of their lifestyle (Kicklighter & Kicklighter, 2005). However, only 30% of housing units started in 2009 were built specifically for the occupant, either by the owner themselves or by a contractor (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009). Finally, the size and development patterns of American homes are not sustainable. Since 1940, the average number of people living in an American home has dropped significantly, but the average size of new houses has doubled (Wilson & Boehland, 2005). These large homes are built in a low-density pattern that creates sprawl and car dependency (Meredith, 2003). Between 1945 and 2002, urban land area increased two times faster than population growth (Lubowski, Vesterby, Bucholtz, Baez, & Roberts, 2006). The pattern of building large homes at low densities will be unsustainable in the future due to population increases, energy consumption and natural resource depletion. The design solution proposes an 880 square foot home that addresses the problems of suitability, affordability, and sustainability. The residence includes integrated flexibility that allows it to adapt to meet the needs of every household type that could occupy it. The small size creates a sustainable prototype, allowing more homes to be built on a smaller footprint. The size also makes the home more affordable, thereby making ownership a possibility for more people. The flexible features of the interior will allow for customization to occur over time and for each user's needs. This thesis project challenges the current pattern of the American home, and proposes a new residential solution that will solve the problems of affordability, suitability and sustainability inherent within our housing market.
Housing, Homeownership, Housing Affordability, Housing Availability, Housing Sustainability, Housing Suitability, Workforce Housing, Housing Diversity, Housing Flexibility, Flexible Design, User Driven Design, Small House, Not So Big House
Date of Defense
June 30, 2011.
A Thesis submitted to the College of Visual Arts, Theater and Dance in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Fine Arts.
Includes bibliographical references.
Eric A. Wiedegreen, Professor Directing Thesis; Marlo Ransdell, Committee Member; Lisa K. Waxman, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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