Project: Live Work Home

Richard Cook, a principal at Cook + Fox Architects, surveyed the Near Westside’s inventory of vacant structures and arrived at a conclusion that would guide the design of the Live Work Home. “The last thing in the world that the Near Westside needed was another house, whether it’s green or otherwise,” he says. “What it needed was a new prototype.”

Live-Work Home, Syracuse, New York
When he became the dean of Syracuse University's School of Architecture in 2004, Mark Robbins made a plan to help the city and, potentially, the entire country. “I wanted to see if we could build houses that simultaneously made propositions about sustainability and about the possibility of constructing houses in a city like Syracuse,” Robbins said. The result was three green homes for $200,000 each and the promise of more to come. Read more about the central New York project here. Photo by Richard Barnes. Image courtesy of © Richard Barnes.

Cook’s team designed a single-story space with an open layout. Sliding doors and mobile partitions on wheels can be configured to create different layouts for living and working, eliminating the costs and landfill waste associated with residential remodeling.

shotgun house with CabFab composite board sliding doors
Mobile sustainability: The sliding doors were made in Syracuse by CabFab with a formaldehyde-free plant-and-soy-based composite board manufactured by e2e of Ithaca, New York. The mobile partitions were fashioned from TimberStrand, an engineered lumber made from younger trees rather than old-growth timber. An unconventional exterior: The solar screen is made from medium-density overlay plywood, a widely available and relatively affordable material whose traditional use for highway signs testifies to its durability. Image courtesy of © Richard Barnes.
Clad with fiber cement board and wrapped in an MDO plywood solar screen, the building doesn’t resemble a house so much as a small commercial or industrial structure—an impression enhanced by a garage-style bifold door that opens onto the front porch. A photograph of dappled sunlight filtering through treetops was enlarged and pixelated to create the perforation pattern in the screen, which is cut in places into swiveling panels that can be turned to create shade or to bounce light into the house.

The pine floor was salvaged from the dilapidated shotgun house that was deconstructed to make way for Live Work Home, and the kitchen cabinets were fashioned from wood from a nearby warehouse that was gutted to create condominiums. “It relates by story back to how the building was made,” says Pam Campbell, a senior associate at Cook + Fox. “It makes the building more related to the place and connected to it.”

recycled building materials
Reclaimed materials: Recycled building materials can cut construction costs while simultaneously forging a link with the past. “Be alert about what is being taken down in the area and talk to homebuilders,” Campbell says. “There may be more opportunities than you think.” Image courtesy of © Richard Barnes.
Project: Live Work Home
Design team: Cook + Fox Architects and Terrapin Bright Green, New York
Size: 1,400 square feet

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