KU’s eco-friendly architecture class to unveil newest Studio 804 project Saturday

photo by: Nick Krug

University of Kansas students Erik Erdman, St. Louis, on ladder, and Eric Pincus, Long Island, New York, work to put some of the finishing touches on the new Studio 804 house at 1220 E. 12th Street. The students spent part of Wednesday preparing the home for an open house on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

It used to be a scrapyard. Not anymore.

Over the last nine months, graduate students in the University of Kansas Studio 804 class worked to transform the junk-filled lot at 1220 E. 12th St. into an eco-friendly housing model for its neighbors in East Lawrence.

The two structures — a 1,500-square foot primary house and its 500-square foot accessory dwelling — are already on the market for a cool $479,000. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the property will be open for public tours.

photo by: Nick Krug

An exterior view of the the new Studio 804 house at 1220 E. 12th Street shows the south and east facades of the home.

Studio 804 is an architecture class, with an associated not-for-profit cooperation, that challenges a new group of students every year to design and build their own projects from the ground up. This year’s students took advantage of particularly generous zoning in East Lawrence to create a one-bedroom detached unit in addition to the three-bedroom main house.

The two lots add up to more than half an acre of land. Profits from the sale of the property will go back into the Studio 804 program.

“It’s pretty amazing, really, for the price,” says Elayna Svigos, a fifth-year architecture graduate student from suburban Chicago. “It’s kind of cool how most years (of the class) only get to build one house, and we got to build two in the same timeframe.”

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Svigos and her classmates say the project will serve as a template for future sustainable housing projects in the Brook Creek neighborhood. As with past Studio 804 designs, the 1220 E. 12th St. house utilizes repurposed materials and cutting-edge building technologies.

Efficient ventilation systems and plenty of natural daylight reduce the need for mechanical conditioning, and the combination of native grasses and other porous surfaces around the site are meant to limit the amount of rainwater that flows into the storm system.

photo by: Nick Krug

Students and visitors pass through the kitchen area on Wednesday, May 9, 2018.

photo by: Nick Krug

The living space within the new Studio 804 house is located along the south end of the home.

Along the east side of the house, a long corridor of floor-to-ceiling glass panels opens up onto the project’s second lot and its crown jewel: a giant burr oak tree, the second-largest in the state.

It’s projects like this that will “transform” the 1200 block of East 12th Street, says Alexa Kaczor, a fifth-year architecture master’s student.

“We’re kind of the catalyst of what is to come for these houses around here and what this street becomes,” she says. “We’re making that first impression of what’s able to be done and really kind of pushing those design boundaries of sustainability and affordability, honestly, for what you’re getting.”

As with past Studio 804 houses, this year’s project is led by Dan Rockhill, a J.L. Constant Distinguished Professor of Architecture at KU.

Other notable features of the house(s) include wheelchair access, a state-of-the-art heating and air-conditioning system, solar panels, plumbing fixtures and lighting, in addition to energy-efficient appliances made in Germany. The house’s exterior sheathing is composed of repurposed metal panels and insulated glass units, providing a view of nearby Brook Creek Park and lots of natural daylight.

The primary house contains three bedrooms and one bathroom, while the 500-square-foot detached unit serves as its own livable space with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and storage area. The smaller building could be used as a studio, a guest house, family living quarters or to lease as a rental property.