Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Stanley Russell, M.Arch.

Committee Member

Stephanie Ferrell, M. Arch.

Committee Member

Sean Williams, M.Arch.


Environmental, Housing, Modular, Construction, Vernacular, systems


“Our structures might be machines for living in, but there was no longer much about them that was alive.”

-William McDonough, Cradle to Cradle

Home ownership is a significant driver within American culture. In Florida single-family homes represent one of the largest components of our built surroundings, significantly impacting the environment through material use and energy consumption. Currently, homes typically are built with little regard to the environmental context. By designing for the immediate goal of separation from the elements, they do not provide for convenient spatial expansion or adaptability, using material assemblies that do not lend themselves to be recycled, reused, or returned to the earth safely. Homes are obsolete before they have been constructed.

The Florida single-family home, once closely linked to its environment both physically and experientially, has devolved into a statically defined entanglement of systems with a primary goal of separating humans from natural systems by providing a climatically fixed space with little regard to the environment. This separation has served to detach people and the buildings that they inhabit from their environmental context and responsibilities rendering the underlying physical, biological, and chemical processes of their environmental context irrelevant.

By viewing the dwelling unit and its components as not within their end function but part of a greater cycle, this elevates the dwelling unit to more than inanimate machine that separates but to a symbiotic entity within a greater construction ecology. Through the analysis of historical Florida dwellings it is the intent to distill a design approach that reconnects with the environmental context through use of passive systems and experiential environmental connection. Further study is to focus on modular systems and connections within building skins and structures to develop methods that allow for the assembly, disassembly and adaption thus strengthening the construction ecology by facilitating the reuse of materials. By redefining the construction cycle and the connection to the local environment of the Florida single-family home it is the intent to establish a contemporary construction methodology that acts to not only be environmentally efficient but environmentally effective for its user and its context.