Archimania has managed to design a progressive, environmentally responsible home that fosters a meaningful experience among the family and with the neighborhood through connected spatial relationships, transparency, and the making of place, on behalf of Barry Yoakum, Archimania’s principal.
The project has been awarded a 2021 American Award for Architecture from The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
A learning lab by intent was accomplished through an open design process fostering firm-wide learning and experimentation in high-performance design, construction, and operation.
The home occupies a 6,630 square foot corner greenfield site in a new urbanism development built on a peninsula of land in downtown Memphis, Tennessee.
It is sited to frame the Mississippi River and Delta beyond and it relates incomparable scale to its traditional surroundings.
Through form and materiality, the visual threshold between interior and exterior dissolves, opening up spaces through a series of tunable and layered facades to enhance this shared experience between the family and the community.
Civitas, named to reflect the project’s emphasis on community, is a visible and present reminder of our responsibility as stewards of the environment and to each other.
Meeting the AIA2030 Challenge a full decade early was an important goal to demonstrate a path to positive climate change.
The home produces all of the same expressive elements of its new urbanist neighbors while introducing a new composition of material and transparency that re-frames the spatial and
architectural expectations of an environmentally responsible house.
As a learning lab for the entire firm, the design embraced an experimental process for creative design strategies to address community engagement, promotion of equitable communities, biodiversity and nurturing ecosystems, water conservation and reclamation, right-sizing for the economy, energy efficiency and on-site renewables, wellness and health, local resources and low material waste, change and adaptability, and discovery for new design opportunities.
Climate resiliency was central to these strategies, as the site is susceptible to flooding, severe weather including straight-line winds, and ongoing activity from the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
Performance needed to be in perfect balance with connectivity. Throughout the design process, the owner and design team encouraged an open dialogue with the community around traditional and progressive notions of the city, community, and home.
The family welcomes almost daily conversation with passers-by from the “community’s porch” about realized environmental stewardship.
This connectivity is further accomplished by installing a new habitat pocket park to attract pollinators, which is publicly accessible, encourages casual conversation among neighbors, and serves as a respite for this very active community along the riverside Greenbelt Park.
This home demonstrates a new perspective taken towards residential design, construction, and inhabitation.
Civitas exceeded zero energy/zero carbon targets in its first year and is a testing ground for thoughtful exploration into transforming the climate impact of the residential market.
With a 200-year design life cycle, it offers scalable solutions that will evolve and adapt to the changing needs of future families and environmental conditions.
As a learning lab, the project supports ongoing study with broad application.
Civitas is certified LEED Platinum for Homes and is the first zero-energy/zero carbon single-family dwelling in the world to pursue ILFI certification.
General Contractor: Barry Alan Yoakum
Photographers: Alan Karchmer