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Students Build Studio 804’s Latest House in Challenging Times

Many schools of architecture were shut down last spring because of Covid-19, but the Studio 804 program at the University of Kansas Department of Architecture is no ordinary architecture program. It does something very unusual for an architecture school: it actually teaches students how to build a sophisticated building from the ground up. “This includes everything from initial design including all systems, construction documents, estimates, working with zoning and code officials, site layout, placing concrete, framing, roofing, siding, setting solar panels, landscape and more — there isn’t anything we don’t do ourselves.”

 Studio 804

The houses are always interesting modern designs that cannot be too unconventional or expensive as they are then sold on the open market. The 2020 version is 1550 square feet, plus a 520 square foot accessory dwelling unit.

 Studio 804

The main house has the entry facing a living wall, a great room with kitchen to one side and two bedrooms to the other.

“The design was inspired by the Midwestern farmstead vernacular of the region. These timeless vernacular qualities house all the accommodations necessary for modern, sustainable living. A unique feature of this house is the Accessory Dwelling Unit permitted in the zoning district. It is a small separate residence on the same lot that can be used for income property or for extended family members. It also supports the city of Lawrence’s goals of increased density close to downtown rather than continued sprawl into the countryside.”

Given that Covid-19 has disrupted the construction industry as well as the school year, it’s impressive that Studio 804 was able to complete this project on schedule. Studio 804 founder Dan Rockhill tells Treehugger how they coped: “We had to isolate for two months, March April. All the students came back and actually graduated as we pushed hard

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