Despite the great strides taken as Indianapolis has slowly and deliberately transformed itself into a world class destination, many of its urban neighborhoods remain in a state of decay defined by vacant lots and abandoned houses awaiting demolition. The challenges in these inner city neighborhoods are widespread and well documented, and are similar to those faced by urban communities throughout the midwest and across the country.
EcoMod is a collaborative proposal for a series of sustainable urban infill prototypes applicable to Indianapolis and beyond. EcoMod employs modular building systems for increased efficiency, economy, yield and performance and is the result of a collaborative partnership between the architect, the distributor/on-site contractor and the modular builder. The project seeks to provide a range of sustainable, affordable housing options for typical infill lots targeted to individual property owners rather than developers, empowering community residents and encouraging a "bottom up" model for urban renewal.
The designers began by looking at distressed urban neighborhoods using Indianapolis as a case study, and surveyed standard lot sizes and orientations as a point of departure. Housing models were developed based on predominant lot types which could then be adapted as necessary to specific conditions. The first two models to be developed, the "Light" and the "Shift," are a two and three module units respectively, intended to conform to current zoning requirements as applied to the dominant lot type.
The project designers collaborated closely with the modular builder, beginning with a tour of the factory; gaining a detailed understanding of the standard means and methods of production prior to developing design proposals. The projects aspire to be innovative not by creating new methods or means of production but rather by trying to propose unique solutions that respond to social, economic and environmental conditions while navigating within the accepted conventions of production.
The EcoMod "Light," a two module entry level unit is approximately 1,650 square feet and contains three bedrooms and two baths. This model could be delivered for a cost of approximately $175,000 or $106 per square foot, including site development. With rollbacks and incentives it is anticipated the project could be offered to a qualifying homeowner for approximately $139,000. A proposed pilot project sponsored by a local Community Development Corporation was placed on hold in 2010. The project team continues to look for another suitable opportunity for a pilot project.