Bright Common

Bright Common

Philadelphia, PA


Catalpa House

“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary
spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal
hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.”1

If Dr. King were alive today I believe he would have added climate
change to that list. Exiting the 10,000 yearlong, climatically stable
Holocene and entering the unknowable Anthropocene we stand at a
watershed moment. With civilization itself altering the climate so
rapidly, how then shall we dwell for the next 10,000 years?

We offer Catalpa House as an inquiry. By addressing present social
realities it follows in the 300+ year old tradition of the venerably
adaptable rowhouse with the following goals: It must help reduce the
global carbon budget. A carbon positive, source-net-zero energy &
water, biophilic housing model for both infill and deep-energy-retrofits
of existing homes shall accomplish this. It must support joy-induced
community resiliency over fear-based individual survivalism in the face
of societal shifts. A fair housing model imagined by and for the people
shall gather community resources and benefit all equally. It must help
eliminate systemic poverty. Beautiful, safe, affordable, and locally
grown homes will create jobs, radicalize education initiatives, overhaul
arcane building codes, bring justice to gentrification and re-invent
our local economy from the bottom up.

Catalpa House is less a strict infill dwelling and more a spur towards
needed dialogue around climate change adapted urbanism. 26% of the
total population and 36% of children live in poverty in Philadelphia.
Without massive and prolonged carbon emissions cuts we have about 28
years before 21% of Philadelphia is under water. We join the cry to
“study war no more”1 and focus our unique abilities as the human ones to
join together, collaborate, and co-evolve with Nature towards a
regenerative future now!

(1) Martin Luther King Jr. | "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" | Ebenezer Baptist Church | April 30, 1967

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Status: Competition Entry
Location: Philadelphia, PA, US
Firm Role: Architect