Monday, September 17, 2012

Meet Fast Forward Presenter >> Halee Bouchehrian

What is your Big Idea for Philadelphia?

B.Y.O.B. Build Your Own Building:
To educate potential homebuyers about alternative ways of building and owning one's house. 

Under the label of luxury condominiums, many developers use such buzz words to market new development to potential buyers.  In developers’ terms, the “luxurious” aspect manifests itself in stainless steel appliances, and other short-lived trends.  Buyers choose from identical templates of studio, one-, two-or three-bedroom floor plans.  Developers have to recoup their investment so these mass-produced “luxury” developments offer little value at a high price. 

This model known as “Baugruppenmodell” already exists in countries like Germany, where cities encourage new development of vacant lots with tax incentives.  Pooling together a group of five or six families’ and individuals’ capital to buy land, design and build our own homes, would not only cut the cost of new housing, but allow home buyers to take total control: From location, to customized floor plans with true lasting luxuries such as high ceilings, outdoor space, double height space and lots of natural light.  Home owners will also have control over the mechanical systems used, allowing them to take charge of their energy bills over the life cycle of the building eliminating exorbitant predetermined monthly condo fees.  Working together with an architect, home buyers can make a wish list to customize their homes that is tailored to their current needs and flexible enough to accommodate future needs.  Instead of being given limited options for finishes, building your own offers opportunities to choose finishes as extravagant as your budget allows and not calculated to maximize a developer’s profit margin.  The possibilities are endless.  

Halee Bouchehrian is the founder and principal of phenomenArch.  phenomenArch is a small architecture studio with an interest in meaningful space making.  phenomenArch approaches architecture as a problem-solving proposition and seeks thoughtfully practical solutions to spatial challenges at any scale. Halee holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architecture from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a Master of Architecture from the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania.  Prior to founding phenomenArch, she has worked in architecture offices on three different continents in India (Mani & Chowfla), Germany (Behnisch Architekten) and the United States where she most recently worked with Arquitectonica and BLTa as a lead designer on Revel in Atlantic City, NJ.  Halee also has a faculty appointment in the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania teaching architecture studio in the Undergraduate Program.  

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