NEW YORK, N.Y. — Five years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, a team of young engineers and architects designed RAMPed UP, a prototype for a small, green, and affordable house for an elderly couple in the Broadmoor neighborhood, one of the most damaged areas of the city. With a construction cost of only $100,000, the shotgun-style residence is inexpensive to build and operate. Construction on the house begins this fall.

The project was designed by a team of young professionals, led by engineers from Buro Happold North America and architects from Rogers Marvel Architects. It is one of two finalists selected on August 27 in the Emerging Professional category of the 2010 Natural Talent Design Competition. The United States Green Building Council (USGBC), in partnership with Salvation Army’s EnviRenew Initiative, organized the competition.

Architecturally bold yet ecologically sensitive, the house meets the competition’s goal of providing “applied learning experience in the principles of integrated design, sustainability, and innovation.” Inspired by the Broadmoor neighborhood context, it is a prototype for sustainable and affordable housing in New Orleans. It is designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, and resist hurricanes and floods.

As its name — RAMPed UP — suggests, the house is based around a ramp that connects the elevated 800-square-foot home with the street. The ramp also manages the change in grade, since the house is elevated to prevent flood damage. It runs through a garden next to the house, which provides natural cross ventilation.

The house is designed to perform efficiently and sustainably. Strategically placed windows and ceiling fans will promote passive ventilation during fall and spring. The rain screen and building envelope will keep moisture out of the walls and prevent mold growth. A rainwater harvesting system will cover 100 percent of the home’s irrigation demand. Building materials will be economic, durable and, whenever possible, local, reclaimed, recycled, and nontoxic.

The two finalists’ schemes will be built, and then monitored for energy efficiency, water use, indoor air quality, and other benchmarks. The house that performs most efficiently will win the grand prize at the Greenbuild Conference in 2011.

RAMPed UP Team:
The team that designed Ramped Up includes Daniel Bersohn, Tim Hanna, Rossella Nicolin, Lauren Page, Irmak Turan (Buro Happold), along with Yavuz Akcora, Nicholas McDermott, Shane Neufeld, and Jenny Wu (Rogers Marvel Architects).