The architect joins a roster of local and international firms, including Morphosis and MVRDV, that have completed eco-homes in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward for residents left homeless by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Built for actor and architecture enthusiast Brad Pitt’s Make It Right foundation, the 165-square-metre duplex on Tennessee Street is far from Gehry’s signature swoops and swirls. In pastel pink and lilac, it features a front-to-back organization, which minimizes the length of the shared wall between the two stacked volumes. A three-bedroom home backs onto a single-bedroom unit and both are topped with a canopy of waterproof solar panels that provides shade for the rooftop terraces.
The ample exterior living areas, which also include a slew of porches and gardens, was created in response to the community’s desire for outdoor space – a popular component of the local vernacular, pre-Katrina. The structure is clad in fibre cement boards that are expected to hold up against weather damage for 50 years, while the framing lumber used is treated to repel moisture.
Inside, the firm used Benjamin Moore’s zero-VOC paints and installed laminated hardwood flooring and coutertops made with 75 per cent recycled material including glass, porcelain and corn oil resin.
Bounded by homes built by Philadelphia’s Kieran Timberlake and Los Angeles’ Graft, Gehry’s is similarly elevated. It becomes the 80th completed project in Pitt’s plan to rebuild 150 homes for no more than $200,000 each.