Green Orchard Houses (2018)

The Place:

Just a few blocks from Crozet’s downtown district is a little one acre parcel of land that was once the home to part of a much larger apple orchard. A few of the old apple trees remain and a tenacious grove of bamboo has colonized the stream bank. Today this plot is completely surrounded by houses, has public water, sewer and electricity, and is an easy walk from coffee shops, post office, a new Library, restaurants, stores and loads of small town charm. A large public square, boutique hotel, shops, and a theater are scheduled for construction starting next year. 

The Challenge:

Even though it is so close to the center of town, only two houses are allowed per acre, which might sound desirable at first until you remember how expensive that the Charlottesville and Crozet areas have become and almost no affordable houses are built every year. The rigid sprawl codes from the 1950’s car invasion have left us with very expensive infrastructure costs per home. The codes do leave one bit of affordability hope in accessory units: Accessory units are simply a separate apartment that the homeowner can rent out for extra income, and they are usually studios or one bedroom units intended for a single person or couple to live inexpensively.

The Idea:

The concept for this one acre parcel (two lots) in Crozet is to build two houses that have attached accessory units that even though they are attached, feel like their own completely separate houses. This is done by clever house and window placement, utilizing the existing topography as an advantage. The houses are designed to be net-zero ready, using such little energy that a few solar panels on the roof or mounted remotely can power them while providing superior indoor air quality and comfort for the residents. The houses are placed on the site to capture their outdoor spaces, making them comfortable and loved. The grounds will be planted with native plants as well as non-invasive food producing orchard trees. The existing street will be lined with shade trees and rain gardens. The houses are also designed to fit in with the existing neighborhood’s one and two story ranches in scale, color and texture.

The Reality:

This is not an academic project: two houses walkable to charming downtown Crozet will be built sometime next year (2019) once all of the final approvals are in place and the designs have been optimized with builder feedback. Please contact me if you are interested in buying one of the houses/lots or are interested in applying the concept to another site, town, or state. The location of the lot is just north of the intersection of Jarman’s Gap Rd and Orchard Dr on Orchard Drive.

Lot 1:

The concept for lot 1 is a compact two story three bedroom two bath house featuring an unfinished or finished walk out basement, covered walkways, screened in porch, compact bedrooms (some with their own outdoor covered balconies), cathedral ceilings, and an open living/dining/kitchen space. The accessory unit is a small studio apartment above the garage with a trellised outdoor patio.

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Lot 2:

The concept for lot 2 is a compact two story three bedroom two bath house featuring a large attached greenhouse, compact bedrooms, outdoor covered balconies, cathedral ceilings, and an open living/dining/kitchen space. The accessory unit is a one bedroom house with a loft, screened in porch, and opens up to the large attached greenhouse.

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