In an effort to fight urban sprawl and accommodate the growing population in Lawrence, Kansas, nonprofit Studio 804 has created a subdivision for two sustainable homes to show how urban density can be achieved in established neighborhoods. Designed and built by graduate students at the University of Kansas Department of Architecture, the Houses on Oak Hill Avenue are the most recent achievement of the comprehensive year-long design/build learning experience offered at Studio 804. As with every Studio 804 project since 2008, the recently completed buildings are certified LEED Platinum.

side of two white and wood gabled homes

To help Lawrence avoid outward sprawl, Studio 804 purchased and subdivided a lot for two small homes. Separated by a row of plantings and staggered for privacy, each of the light-filled homes features a gabled roof, a glazed south-facing end wall and vaulted ceilings to create a sense of spaciousness indoors. Both houses also feature similar floor plans, with the living areas on the southern street-facing side, long kitchens on the west side and private areas tucked behind. The larger of the two houses includes an additional flex room that could be used as an office space or second bedroom.

Related: Students design and build a gorgeous LEED Platinum-seeking forum in Kansas

round wood dining table near gray kitchen
blue and gray kitchen with steel appliances

“According to the city, we have seen medium to high population growth rates over the last two decades, and if this trend continues, we will need housing to accommodate a projected 30 to 60 thousand additional residents by the year 2040,” Studio 804 explained. “Increasing urban density in established neighborhoods provides a sustainable way to accommodate a growing population by utilizing existing resources and infrastructure.”

round wood table beside gray kitchen
light wood desk under blue art work

The energy-efficient homes feature airtight and highly insulated envelopes topped with reflective metal roofs that reduce heat absorption. High-performance windows and doors prevent energy loss, while large walls of glass let plenty of natural light in to reduce reliance on artificial lighting. Including this project, Studio 804 has completed 13 LEED Platinum buildings to date.

+ Studio 804

Photography by Corey Gaffer Photography via Studio 804

front of two small white gabled homes at night