General News


Working on the house on the mall during an amazing sunset

As Mark Wigley said in “Storytime”, his speech published in Assemblage 27, architects are trained to tell stories.  We research, design, speak about our projects in a narrative and then once they are constructed, we hope they speak for themselves and continue to tell the story with out us there. In order to be clear and get our point across to the public we often must be as concise as possible. This simplification risks loosing many interesting aspects of a project. The most interesting stories have multiple plots, tangents, asides, character development, symbolism, and  brilliant writing.  We are not telling children’s stories here, we are telling stories that will hopefully capture the attention of sophisticated and important minds, and the minds of the american consumer.

Empowerhouse has depth. It has a story with twists and turns and layers of engagement, people, and practices.  It’s almost impossible to tell every aspect of the project every time we speak about it.  Over the course of the last two years, the project has grown and involved over 200 students and faculty from three schools.  These people have worked together to craft a tale that cannot be distilled into a simple project narrative.  It is not simply a story about site net-zero energy, nor affordable construction, nor energy conservation through following Passive house principles.  It is about all of these things and engaging a community in the design process, listening to them, and giving them an architecture they can call their own.  I am confident that Empowerhouse does all of these things, and goes beyond the Solar Decathlon competition to affect real change in the way affordable sustainable homes are conceived of and constructed.  I hope the people visiting our home on the mall during the competition (September 23rd-October 2nd, West Potomac Park), people following the project online, and residents of Deanwood hear our story, and can recognize and appreciate it’s depth.

These are some of the storytellers

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