Moiré Noir House, New Orleans home images, NFA Louisiana residential property, US real estate photos
Moiré Noir House in New Orleans
July 18, 2023
Design: Nathan Fell Architecture
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Photos by Jeremy Jachym
Moiré Noir House, USA
When Nathan Fell of NFA (Nathan Fell Architecture) first spoke with Eric Roland, the client for the Moiré Noir House New Orleans front porch addition, there were a few things about the project summary that would normally have stood out as red flags. The budget was only $50k, the project scope was very small, and it was going to be DIY (Roland was to self-perform as the General Contractor). However, it was evident from the start that Roland had such an infectious enthusiasm for design and a vision for what this project could achieve that despite the difficulties, it was difficult to say no.
The design conceived the 20’+ zone between the front of the existing duplex and sidewalk as semi-public, liminal space that blended (rather than divide) the conditions of public areas adjacent to the home with the more private spaces inside the home. The owner made it clear that they were not interested in stylistically mimicking ornamental tropes, but instead placed value in creating a space that functionally reproduced the patterns and meaning of a New Orleans front porch. The addition is shorter and closer to the street edge than the original facade.
The project takes the idea of a screen wall from an aesthetic of a partially constructed framed structure. Programmatically, an existing interior stair was removed from within the building (making more internal space available to each unit) and placed closer to the sidewalk as access to the upper dwelling unit via a partially enclosed porch screen which also encloses a ground level space that is both ample for parking and outdoor gatherings.
The concept was for the screen to create an ambiguous feel of having both room-like privacy while maintaining visual access to the public spaces along the street. To further this ambiguity the screen has a visually dynamic quality that at acute angles (more prevalent from faster moving cars) the addition appears opaque, but as a pedestrian (slower moving) with more perpendicular views the interior spaces of the front porch appear more clearly. The whole is perceived as unified through a moire’ effect when viewed in motion.
Some of the basic project goals were to create a large private deck connected to the 2nd floor unit and a separate enclosed outdoor space below linked to the 1st floor unit suitable for large gatherings and a secure parking space when needed. The addition needed to also include an external stair so that a stair inside the existing duplex could be removed. Removing this (internal) stair would free up a lot of valuable space allowing for the improved reconfiguration of both the 1st and 2nd floors.
Who are the clients and what’s interesting about them?
The client acted as the GC while operating a small business. Through grit and determination, they were able to build the project in less than two months, which is better than would be expected from an average General Contractor.
What was the brief?
Design a two-story front porch that had space for automobile parking at grade and had an external stair (to allow removal of an internal stair).
What were the key challenges?
In New Orleans, one of the first things an Architect has to do when considering a project is if it’s zoning district will require oversight by any Historical Review Boards. Fortunately, the project was not located in an HDLC district (the strict local review board) but was in a district that potentially controls the percent of the façade that can be removed.
NFA had to research the Sanborn maps of the site (only physically available at the main branch of the New Orleans library) to prove that the existing porch was constructed past 1987 and therefore could be removed. Historic research is not typically in the scope of services for small porch projects particularly ones for buildings that are officially deemed “non-contributing,” but in this case was worth it to avoid the bigger bureaucratic hurdle of the Historic Review board.
What were the solutions?
Rather than seeing the project as several tacked on elements trying to work in harmony with the existing façade, NFA sought to unify them with cohesive, organizing elements that could serve as a new front façade.
How is the project unique?
Through a regular veil of black painted dimensional lumber creates a moiré pattern along the front mass of the building which creates privacy that varies from opaque at acute angles to more open at perpendicular ones. The project uses very common materials in simple way that maximizes impact.
Moiré Noir House in New Orleans, Louisiana – Building Information
Architect: Nathan Fell Architecture – https://www.nathanfellarchitecture.com/
Project size: 1000 ft2
Site size: 3100 ft2
Project Budget: USD 50,000.00
Completion date: 2022
Building levels: 2
Photography: Jeremy Jachym
Moiré Noir House, New Orleans, Louisiana images / information received 180723
Location: New Orleans, USA
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