Date of this Version
Schulte, Kristen M. "Home-By Us: togetherNEST alternative practice" Master of Architecture Thesis, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2017.
Responding to the affordable housing crisis, the proposed practice leverages tools typically associated with internet-based startups and technology companies to assemble teams and build efficiencies into the building procurement process. This approach facilitates access for an income demographic that would not normally engage an architect. Through a process like online dating, the practice assembles small groups of owner-developers to design, finance, and build their own homes. Participating households are advised on location and project approach based on their self-reported preferences; and matched with others with similar preferences. Collaborative mass customization of each home is achieved through a mix of online (non-expert) and in-person (expert) tools. These tools are updated through a collaborative process among a network of togetherNEST and local architects, designers, and engineers: achieving true open source architecture modeled after software development workflows; built on constant improvement and multi-faceted feedback loops.
The project focuses on, but is not exclusive to, households at 40 to 100% of median income. Affordable housing for this demographic is achieved through a mix of strategies that may come into play at varying ratios in individual projects. Promotion of healthy cities is achieved through the project types: encouraging medium-density mixed-use development, which in turn encourages a myriad of healthy choices and behaviors.
Research trajectories supporting this proposal include: understanding decision-making processes through Behavioral Economics; precedents for alternative design and delivery processes; precedents of typical American multi-family housing delivery; American housing market preferences research; open source architecture and open source software development; matchmaking as an online service; collaborative mass customization in a retail shopping context and potential for adaptation to architecture through computational design (parametric tools) in concert with hybrid prefabrication and on-site construction methods; supporting non-expert decision-making with tools for 3D virtual reality (VR) visualization; and current scientific research in measuring and promoting healthy places.