What 'Make it Right' Gets Wrong

Tim Culvahouse argues that while the widely published and discussed post-Katrina rebuilding project is a worthy undertaking, its designers should take more cues from local building traditions.

Historic typological house models like the Creole Townhouse, with its street-facing stoop and balcony, or the Shotgun House, with its generous front porch, not only defined a New Orleans aesthetic, but also created a unique mode of casual, serendipitous socializing that persists throughout the city today. Other design conventions, like detached and isolated kitchens at the rear of the house, are environmentally logical in a sub-tropical climate and also encourage enjoyment of the backyard, says Culvahouse.

While some Make it Right models embrace these traditions, like David Adjaye's simple yet inspired design that bears resemblance to the traditional Camelback House, others miss the opportunity to create a modern yet distinctly New Orleans architecture, he says.

Culvahouse writes:

'Taking just this small set of typological patterns - the front stoop in intimate contact with the street, its space shaped by the scrolled overhang above; the balcony as a celebrated re-emergence of privileged social space into the wider streetscape; and the interconnection of kitchen to the out-of-doors - we might suggest a starting point for any housing endeavor that aspires to widespread deployment in New Orleans.'

Full Story: Stoop, Balcony, Pilot House: Making it Right in the Lower Ninth Ward

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