Architect Matthew Coates’ award-winning “ReHOME: Resilience & Regeneration” project takes on two pressing social and environmental issues: the lack of affordable housing in cities throughout the United States, and the vast amount of waste produced during construction and demolition.
This project won the prestigious 2022 AIA Seattle’s Award of Merit in “Research & Innovation” owing to its plan to save millions of dollars in resources while creating jobs that develop employable skills and constructing low-cost housing for diverse demographics. Through community engagement and volunteer work, future residents will benefit from the housing while learning skills of construction and management. The vision is to then introduce volunteers to industries wherein they might acquire future employment. This project introduces innovations not yet utilized in efforts to increase the inventory of affordable housing.
At the opening of the first completed example of this project at Morales Farm in Kitsap County on December 10th, 2022, Matthew Coates, president of Coates Design, noted that “all the materials used – the nails, screws, timber, sheathing, caulk, weather stripping, windows, doors, brackets, and roof – were unwanted and headed for the landfill. We were able to capture it, reorganize it, and use it to create comfortable, well-designed homes. It took faith, goodwill and a lot of work. The building process wastes a tremendous amount of material, and this project shows that things can be done differently.” Coates envisions this example being replicated throughout the country and will therefore provide all the tools, information and lessons learned freely to anyone interested.
COST SAVINGS = GREATER ACCESSIBILITY
ReHOME is on track to design and build at a third of the cost of current construction prices. As it is scaled up, the process intends to develop a new sector of the real estate and construction industry. This model can be exported to various cities throughout the country and the world, developing properties to accommodate growing neighborhoods of recycled homes.
As the reHOME Morales Farm project grew, thousands of labor hours from volunteers and construction employees were donated, and little conversations about gathering materials even connected people from off island. When Benjamin Moore Paint in Seattle heard that the project needed paint, the next day they showed up with the paint and a team who volunteered to work.
Emphasizing the extent of repurposing, Kellen Bond, Clark Construction Inc. vice president of operations, said that 26,000 pounds of building materials valued at about $125,000 were diverted from the landfill. Everything from fixtures to windows were sourced from trade partners, subcontractors and the community.
Construction volunteer Deb Rudnick marveled at the structures and remembered the hours she spent pulling nails from a “mountain of lumber” for the project. “I think it’s phenomenal; this is a template that could be replicated in so many places.”
Presenting the AIA Merit Award, Billie Faircloth, Partner at Kieran Timberlake, states, “this project challenges the Architecture-Engineering-Construction community to establish new practices for demolition, deconstruction, material salvage and constructing shelter.”
The jury acknowledged the project’s “fearlessness when embracing the complexity of these systems” and “the team’s participatory approach as an exemplary model of applied action-oriented research that simultaneously creates knowledge and outcomes.”
“We need projects like this,” Ghazal Khezri, director at Los Angeles’ Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects affirms, “this is an excellent prototype for addressing issues of affordable housing with scales of economy and growth in mind.”
“It means the world to me to be in a community where we believe this is something important to support. This is not just about being sustainable, reusing materials and saving things from the landfill; it also illustrates how we value affordable housing, housing that will help interns live on the property and learn how to make a living farming.” Matthew Coates said at the public opening.
“This is one of the most heartwarming things I’ve experienced in my life,” he added, “everyone had their hearts in the right place. It really teaches that there is so much joy in giving, and there is so much joy in seeing what we can do when we put our minds together.”
GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
Coates Design demonstrates its commitment to social change by contributing its design services free of charge to the reHOME project. Following this example, at reHOME Morales Farm, 28 other local companies contributed materials, financial support and their hard work to realize this long dreamed of project.
Many working families throughout the country struggle to find housing they can afford. The reHOME Project furnishes a solution to this problem, demonstrating an innovative pathway for creating quality housing and developing flourishing communities for marginalized populations.
Coates envisions a future with planned neighborhoods with homes built from repurposed materials where homeowners have a sense of community and an investment in their future. Toward this aim, he conveys his belief that “everyone deserves good design.”
Facts and Links
Collaborating Partners: Clark Construction Inc. | Friends of the Farms | Housing Resources Bainbridge
Photographer Credit: David W. Cohen Photography
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA
Size: 272 SF per Unit
Fact: The EPA states that more than 600 million tons of C&D debris were generated in the US in 2018.