Fielding Featherston

Fielding Featherston

Los Angeles, CA, US


$200K Affordable House

“Regardless of someone’s disability, mental health issue, or income, they should have access to a sense of volume and natural light,” says Fielding Featherston, AIA, principal and founder of Orlando, Fla.–based Process Architecture, which designed a transitional housing prototype for a local healthcare provider intended for replication across the area.

With more than 50 facilities and 1,400 staff serving over 35,000 clients annually, the nonprofit Aspire Health Partners is one of Florida’s largest providers of behavioral health services. Because transitional housing is often crucial to getting people back on their feet, Aspire both rehabs residential properties it buys and builds new houses. So far, the company has built four of Process Architecture’s prototypes in Orlando.

Funding for the houses came in part from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grants, as well as HUD Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) grants. According to Todd Dixon, Aspire’s director of development and community relations, the prototype houses serve high-risk HIV/AIDS clients and LGBT homeless youth.

Aspire’s holdings in the houses’ surrounding neighborhood include a campus that covers an entire block and 14 other parcels, some with houses on them and some where more houses may be built in the future. “We looked at the bungalows they [Aspire] had built, which had a lot of compartmentalized space, like dining rooms that nobody used,” Featherston says. “We said, ‘Let’s simplify this and do something inspired by the simple, vernacular Florida shotgun home, but do it in a modern way.’ ”

Featherston designed daylight-filled healing spaces with vaulted ceilings and clerestories. Plan-wise, the 1,260-square-foot houses are split lengthwise down the middle into shared and private spaces. In a typical shotgun fashion, the living, kitchen, and dining areas are continuous and open, bookended front and back by porches. Three bedrooms and two baths, one of which is ADA-compliant, are grouped on the private side.

“Rather than think of this as a living room and kitchen, we refer to it as community space that extends outside,” Featherston says. In the future, he says that two of the houses could be mirrored in plan, with the potential for additional doors off the kitchens leading to a shared garden between the two houses.

With design and construction costs that averaged $186,000, the houses are bare-bones and low maintenance: The exterior features stucco over concrete block, topped by asphalt roof shingles; inside, floor tile and wall base, both vinyl, are found throughout. High-performance windows and air conditioning provide comfort during the hot Florida summers.

And the design was intended to blend in with its surroundings. “Our goal is to make these houses look as much as possible like the neighborhood,” Dixon says. “We didn’t want there to be a difference between what you were receiving in terms of our support and what you would get if you were paying for it with your own money.”

This house prototype could also have applications beyond Aspire. “Since we have copyrighted the design, we have had numerous requests to sell the house plans or to engage with new clients,” Featherston says.

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Status: Built
Location: Orlando, FL, US
My Role: Designer, Architect, Principal In Charge