At the same time, a growing number of cities are attempting to lure residents by building and remodeling downtown units aimed at sparking new life in formerly blighted areas.
The fusion of those two ideas that of blending functioning businesses into contemporary and appealing living environments served as the underpinning for "Live/Work 2001," a groundbreaking new project that was on display at the 2001 International Builders Show here in February.
The innovative three-home urban project was undertaken by Miami-based architects Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, along with builder Beazer Homes USA and Builder magazine. The homes were sponsored by a number of leading manufacturers, including Moen Inc., Whirlpool Corp., the Kohler Co.-owned Canac Kitchens, Crossville Ceramics and Triangle Pacific Corp.
Two social issues
The Live/Work 2001 project, organizers noted, was aimed at presenting viable solutions to two pressing social issues with important implications for home builders and residential remodelers, including kitchen and bath designers.
"Live/Work 2001 sends a strong message to the building industry and the home-buying public," project organizers said. "First, it demonstrates the viability of building in urban markets for different target buyers at a time when suburban growth opportunities are being limited. Second, it showcases homes with fully functioning offices, located at street level for walk-in customers. Few builders offer new homes with offices equipped to run a business."
While the kitchens and baths featured in the trio of Live/Work
2001 units on display were not exceptional unto themselves, they
managed to vividly illustrate some of the possibilities opening up
to kitchen/bath space planners who become active in what's being
called the "New Urbanism."
According to the latest statistics, there were more than 55 million people working from home in the U.S. last year, while up to 8,000 people a day join the home-working movement. "Most new homes built today are obsolete as soon as someone wants to work from them, especially in urban areas where professionals need to meet with clients," Live/Work 2001 organizers added.
The Live/Work project demonstrated some of the design and product possibilities available in three distinctly different types of dwellings.
- The Loft, the most affordable of the three units, is a
1,060-sq.-ft., two-story workspace that opens to an upstairs
bedroom loft. A built-in desk overlooks the workspace from the
upstairs balcony, and a rear courtyard provides for mid-day escapes
or evening get-togethers.. The living room and kitchen are combined
on the first floor in one great area.
- The Livabove is designed to rejuvenate the original "Main
Street USA" tradition of living above a business. It is a
3,666-sq.-ft. classic unit that features a large workspace with a
12-foot ceiling on the first floor and living space above.
Reflecting the industrial/urban theme, the unit includes textured
faux wall finishes and stained trim characteristic of the turn of
the 19th century. On the first floor, a work space, kitchenette and
bath with shower are universally designed. The second floor
consists of a living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom,
master bath, deck off the master bath, and stairs to a courtyard
off of the kitchen. The third floor consists of a loft area with
two bedrooms and a Jack-and-Jill bath.
- The Lifespan model is a live/work home with design features that can follow the evolving needs of a growing family or home-based business. It consists of a 3,644-sq.-ft. space whose front workspace can be combined via an ingenious door system with the two bedrooms and bath above it to create a rental unit by closing off the doors leading to the kitchen. A contemporary kitchen layout provides views of an enclosed outdoor garden that can be used as a workday retreat. In keeping with the industrial theme, a reproduction 4-ft.-wide "warehouse" rolling door with wrought iron separates the breakfast and dining areas to create a flexible space for parties.
Each of the units featured CAT 5 wiring, home computer networks, video security monitoring and a wealth of other new technologies.
"Roughly 20 million people operate a business from home,"
commented Boyce Thompson,
a spokesman for the project. "Another 30 million [or so] take work home, or operate satellite offices [and telecommute].
"These homes point to a huge new business opportunity for builders, and an exciting new option for buyers," he concluded.