A village in the making

October 15, 2016 Architecture Design Workshop

by Joe Cole

On Saturday, October 15, Hart’s Mill members gathered for another round of our Architectural Design Workshop with our architects Frank Harmon, Suzy Cash, and Paul Drake.  We met in the Chapel Hill Public Library on a bright afternoon, and the architects shared their hard work and progress since our last gathering in August.

attentive-audienceIn early September, Hart’s Mill members also met together to make a host of specific decisions around Site Plan, Common House Design, and Home Design, and we passed along our preferences to the architects.  So, by mid-October, we were very excited to see what the architects had come up with.

They started by presenting a revised and updated Site Plan with a more compact design, including the Common House in the center of the village.  The compact Site Plan reflected the community’s decision to design half of the homes as duplexes, and about 75% as 2-story homes, which reduced our land footprint and decreased our overall roof square footage to help us with storm-water management.  The plan also included covered parking to hold solar panels, and a provisional idea for our Education Center to sit near the pond.


Suzy describes a Common House concept

Next the architects presented drawings and a rough model of the Common House that included a mid-sized Dining Room to foster more intimate gatherings, and a large screened porch that could be used as overflow dining and meeting space for much of the year in temperate North Carolina.  Several members commented on the elegance and beauty of the design, and appreciated how the layout created a village commons and green nestled around the large oak tree on the property.


Could a duplex look like this?

After the group discussed pros and cons of the Common House design direction, the architects presented three separate Schemes for Home Design: the Variety, the Efficiency, and the Adaptable.  We were treated to some 2-D and 3-D drawings, along with a small model of a home representing one of the Schemes.  Group members appreciated the visuals and the variety of design schemes, and we spent much of our remaining time identifying the pros and cons of each Scheme, and generating questions for our community and the architects to address going forward.


Imagine conversing on a terrace by the oak tree

At the end of the meeting, several members expressed great appreciation for the architects.  Suzy, Paul, and Frank are doing an impressive job working with our group (typically about fifteen members attending the workshops) in a collaborative design process that aims to create a village that is sustainable, affordable, and beautiful.   As with any group, there is a range of preferences, dreams, and visions of what each person wants the village to look like.  Through this process, we are not just designing a village—we are getting to know each other, learning to work with our differences, and building community.  Our hope is that we can design a village that inspires each of us, along with others to come.


Common House rough concept in 3-D

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1 Response to A village in the making

  1. Vanessa says:

    “75% 2-story homes” I certainly appreciate the storm water / mimimized footprint objectives – has aging in place been considered? Stairs can be burdensome to an aging population.

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