Gallery: RENOVATION: A Sustainable Addition to an Old Victorian


Increasing densification of urban areas is not a new problem, and unfortunately solutions to this dilemma usually result in the construction of an apartment building where an old, aging house once stood. However, Christopher L. Megowan was keen on finding a solution that would allow for increased density while also maintaining existing structures. And surely enough, he managed to add 1,200 square feet to the backyard of an 100-year-old Victorian home located on the outskirts of the University of Southern California campus. As a student investment, his modern addition comes in at a mere $130 per square foot. What is more impressive, perhaps, is the use of passive, environmentally-friendly efficiencies throughout the renovation which include ample daylighting and ventilation.

Materials used in this renovation were selected to help eliminate waste and decrease labor: fiber cement and polycarbonate panels. The site, which is located by a parking garage and an alley, made it preferable to hide the view from the inside. While the fiber cement panels are opaque the polycarbonate panels are used as windows — a decision that lowered the cost of the renovation, provides floor-to-ceiling daylighting, and extra security from the somewhat tough surrounding neighborhood. The polycarbonate panels provide glowing light at night through the use of LEDs, which are woven in between the translucent stud walls. Finally, the addition includes an annex that connects the old with the new, providing a transition from Victorian to Modern and provides an excellent model for preservation with densification.

+ Christopher Megowan Design

via CubeMe


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  1. Envirofrigginmental January 29, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    I retract part of my previous statement… apparently there is a product called 3S Solar Block which uses a nanogel technology in a cellular polycarbonate sheet. Read Duo-Gard’s November 2008 newsletter I suppose this project used this product.

    That said, I’d be wary of any nano technology.

  2. Envirofrigginmental January 28, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Laurels for exhibiting examples of densification, but darts for not elaborating on the passive features.

    Speaking of which, it’s not particularly impressive to get lots of light into a tiny footprint, but being as natural lighting is the focus in this case, I can’t imagine what kind of solar gain there would be resulting from a (presumably) uninsulated polycarbonate window!!

  3. wes January 27, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    uff… that is one of the ugliest things i’ve ever seen and i’ve been to newark.

  4. leafpure January 25, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    If I can chime in, I’d suggest that you publish more about sustainable architecture, and prefabs especially as you used to. It’s what drew me in your blog, while lately it’s become more about everything but architecture. I hope the person who used to be so dedicated to this topic returns. 😉
    Best wishes.

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