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1020 House: UL Lafayette-Habitat project moves to its forever home

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Sections of the 1020 House shipped out Wednesday from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus.

Forklifts and trucks moved two shipping containers from a courtyard behind Fletcher Hall to a lot in Lafayette’s McComb-Veazey neighborhood. 

There, students in the UL Lafayette’s School of Architecture and Design will continue construction as they work to unite the containers with a central, wood-framed core built onto a concrete foundation.

One container is 10 feet long; the other is 20 feet long. The house takes its name from the dimensions.

The 1020 House is the latest partnership between the University and Habitat for Humanity.  Once completed, the structure will be turned over to the organization to determine who’ll call it home.

This is the sixth Habitat home in eight years students have helped design and build, said architecture professor Geoff Gjertson, who is overseeing the 1020 House project as director of the University’s Building Institute.

Last year, he directed the most-recent UL Lafayette-Habitat partnership, the creation of MODESTEhouse, a 216-square-foot “tiny house.”

The 1020 House is 435 square feet.

Like its predecessor, the container house reflects a shift in architectural tastes, Gjertson said. Both emphasize sustainability, he added.

“They appeal to consumers because of their prefabrication. They can be moved easily, and their interiors can be customized.”

Much of the world’s long-distance freight is moved in shipping containers. They are designed to reuse, but returning the empty containers can be costly, so they often remain at their destinations, Gjertson said.

Repurposing the containers as housing “appeals to people who are environmentally conscious.”

The 1020 House enables students to explore the architectural trend while also addressing the demands of south Louisiana’s climate.

The sides and top of the containers are made of 16-gauge, or 1/16th of an inch thick, corrugated steel. That could mean a lot of heat, so students are applying a 2-inch thermal insulation to the container sections of the house. In addition, a sloped roof will run the length of the structure and offer shade. 

Sections of the house will also sit 16 inches off the ground, enabling air to flow beneath the structure, cooling it further.

Like MODESTEhouse, the design is intended to make the 1020 House feel spacious.

Several sliding doors and windows let light stream into the house, and the living room features a 13-foot ceiling.

The one-bedroom house’s other amenities include front and rear porches; a full bathroom; a kitchen; and an attic and other storage spaces.

A team of 12, fourth-year undergraduates designed the home during the spring semester. This summer, a dozen graduate students completed the design and initiated the building process.

They’ll continue to work on the container house at its new location, 300 14th St. Bracketed by Southeast Evangeline Thruway and East Simcoe Street, the McComb-Veazey neighborhood is one of Lafayette’s oldest and was once the center of the city’s French Creole population and culture.

Another student team in the upcoming fall semester will work to complete the 1020 House by December.

The project is estimated to cost $60,000, and sponsorships are available. Contact Gjertson at (337) 278-2722 or at Gjertson@louisiana.edu for information.


Top photo: UL Lafayette architecture students guide a section of the 1020 House into place Wednesday in the McComb-Veazey neighborhood. Once completed, the house, which combines two shipping containers and a wood-framed section on a concrete foundation, will be turned over to Habitat for Humanity. (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

Inset: An architectural rendering of the 1020 House. (Credit: Courtesy of UL Lafayette School of Architecture and Design)

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