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Ribbon Cutting And Open House For “EcoMOD1”—The Affordable, Sustainable And Modular Urban House Prototype

December 6, 2005 -- On Saturday, Dec. 10, from 1 to 4 p.m., a ribbon cutting and open house will be held for ecoMOD1, the first in a series of ecological, modular and affordable houses designed and built by University of Virginia students. John Quale, an assistant professor in the School of Architecture, founded and directs the program.

The 1,290 square foot, three-bedroom “OUTin” house – named for its blending of interior and exterior spaces – is designed to demonstrate the possibilities of modular house construction in urban areas. The design team used rigorous criteria for assessing architectural design, building performance and environmental impact. The house has a highly energy-efficient building envelope, using structural insulated panels, as well as a rainwater collection system. It is the first house built in Charlottesville to collect and filter water for potable use in the modern era.

The ecoMOD project is a research and design/build effort at the U.Va. School of Architecture

in partnership with Piedmont Housing Alliance and the U.Va. School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The project is intended to provide affordable housing organizations with additional options for urban sites, utilizing environmentally responsible design criteria. Modular house manufacturers typically provide larger modules appropriate for homes in suburban areas – large enough that they cannot be transported to tight city streets. Increasingly, modular manufacturers are aiming for the middle to high end of the housing market, providing conventional looking modular houses in excess of 2,500 square feet, and built with little or no emphasis on energy efficiency or sustainability.

The OUTin house was fabricated in eight small modules at a decommissioned U.Va.-owned airport near Charlottesville. The modules were transported to Charlottesville’s Fifeville neighborhood and craned on to a basement/foundation at 502 7 ½ Street.

Piedmont Housing Alliance (PHA) of Charlottesville, Va., will sell the home to a qualified low-income family. Over the next several years, a minimum of two more ecoMOD houses will be built in partnership with PHA. In addition, this spring the ecoMOD project is partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville to design and build a panelized house for the Biloxi, Miss. area through their Katrina Relief “House in a Box” efforts.

The designs of the ecoMOD/PHA houses will be licensed, with the drawings and specifications made available for purchase by individuals, affordable housing organizations and modular builders.

The design and construction team included graduate and undergraduate students in architecture, engineering and landscape architecture. Graduate and undergraduate students in architecture, engineering, commerce, business, planning, economics and environmental science will monitor the building performance and assess the life cycle of the various materials and strategies. So far, more than 55 students have been involved.

Piedmont Housing Alliance is a regional organization dedicated to improving the lives of low and moderate income families and individuals by creating housing and community development opportunities throughout the Thomas Jefferson Planning District in Virginia, which includes the City of Charlottesville and counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson. They provide loans for housing and community development and have several fair housing and affordable housing initiatives and programs. PHA is certified as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), a HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agency (HCA) and a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO).

More information about ecoMOD is available at


A list of project participants available for media interviews is listed below.

John Quale, assistant professor and ecoMOD project director

School of Architecture

(434) 924-6450 office

(434) 906-1034 cell

Stu Armstrong, Mark Watson and Peter Loach

Piedmont Housing Alliance

(434) 817-2436

Paxton Marshall, professor and ecoMOD engineering advisor

School of Engineering and Applied Science

(434) 924-3164

Mark White, associate professor and ecoMOD business advisor

McIntire School of Commerce

(434) 924-7365

Contact: Jane Ford, (434) 924-4298

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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