Jul 14, 2014

COA Lends a Hand to Habitat for Humanity

COA Lends a Hand to Habitat for Humanity
In about a month, architectural students at College of The Albemarle will see their designs leap to life when construction begins on a Habitat for Humanity home in Hertford.
Charles Purser, chair of COA’s Design, Manufacturing and Industrial Technology program, said first-year students in his residential design class were asked to come up with ideas for the non-profit home which will be built using volunteer labor and donations. The class spent a month improving on the basic design of the home that Habitat provided. Originally, the house was a three bedroom, one bathroom home.
“We collected all those ideas and gave them to a second-year student and asked him to take the ideas and compile them and improve the plan as a whole,” Purser said. “Then we showed the Habitat Board and went back and forth a bit until we got what we were after.”
The students’ final design is a 1,056-square-foot home that includes design details not originally conceived of.
“We made quite a few changes to it,” Purser said. “It has a 144-square-foot covered porch. We added a half-bath, we added a laundry room. We came up with some built-in dining room seating – seats with hinges. And we reconfigured the kitchen. It was not very functional. We made it a U-shaped kitchen.”
In their designs, the students also moved some walls around, got rid of bi-fold doors – opting for double swinging doors instead – and moved windows around to allow for better furniture placement. The architectural students also added a built in area on a wall where the TV could be housed. The design process was a new one for Purser’s first-year architectural students.
“They enjoyed it because it was something they hadn’t done before,” Purser said. “They had all kinds of ideas – they went online and researched.”
In mid-May, construction will begin on the Habitat Home and several students and COA employees have already volunteered to help build the home over the summer. Purser said that will provide another unique opportunity for these students because they will see their design come to fruition.
Currently, a construction company is producing the framed wall sections the students created in their design plans. The panels will be loaded onto a truck and already built to the specifications the students drew in their blueprints.
“You unload it off the truck with these panels and you put it together like a house of cards,” Purser said. “When it gets to the site, you can put it together fairly quick. So in a matter of a few days, you’ll see a house.”
Watching as the Craftsman-style house takes shape – according to their own specifications – will provide these students with a unique perspective they don’t typically get in a two-year architectural design program.
“It will help them to see there’s a lot more to walls than just lines on a paper,” Purser said. “When they can actually see it out in the field, it will help them become better designers.”

Photo: COA employees, Charles Purser and Robin Zinsmeister.

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