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Dan Stripp: Architect / Artist

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Dan Stripp: Architect / Artist

In October of 2008 Dan Stripp and fellow friends and University at Buffalo Master’s students in architecture Michael-John Bailie, Paul Dudkowski and Ernest Ng set out to transform a crumbling Black Rock home into a unique experiment in minimalist living. Equal parts engineering solution and aesthetic artwork, the “Quad Space” project purchased the 700 square foot house at 139 Howell St. for $6,500 and invested $36,000 into its renovation. By constructing four 7-by-7.5 foot living quarters or “cubes” that protrude from the house, the project sought to maximize the space available while still providing a comfortable space for its occupants. Stripp currently lives in the house with his girlfriend and dog.

What did you set out to accomplish or learn through the project?

We set out to design and build a habitable thesis project in the city of Buffalo.

What was the construction/rehabilitation process like? Were any of you experienced in construction prior to the project?

Three out of the four of us were experienced in construction somewhat coming into the project. Experiences ranged from summer construction jobs during school to doing Habitat for Humanity projects. The construction process started with the demolition of the interior of the house, stripping it down to the stud walls, chimney and first floor. From, there we started with constructing the four ‘cubes’ and finished with the infill walls.

What are some of the tricks or techniques you utilized to maximize the available space? How did you manage to keep the house comfortable for its’ occupants?

The primary technique for maximizing the space was through the formation of the ‘cube’ spaces. Each cube protrudes out of the house a set amount to achieve the desirable space. Small things such as under-bed storage as an example were also used to maximize all available space. By utilizing double height spaces, large windows and sliding doors the house has the feeling of a much larger house than it actually is.

How might these lessons you’ve learned through the project translate to the practical world? Are these living solutions we could utilize to help prepare for an increasingly urban future?

I would like to think so, but my personal believe is that it is more applicable to the younger generation, primarily. Coming from the college lifestyle of small dormitories translates very well into this kind of minimal style of living. That being said with the increasing demand and energy costs, more people may start to look into this kind of living solution.

Did you face any personal challenges living in the Quad House? How big of an adjustment was it for you?

There was a period of adjustment of course, a different kind of living style needed to be adopted, but I believe it was for the better. Upon moving into the house I was forced to go through all my belongings and really decide what I actually needed and actually used, all else was discarded due to limited space.

How much privacy do you have in the house? Any awkward moments with girlfriends or guests visiting?

The question of privacy is definitely challenged in the house, as is expected when you have four private spaces within a 650 square foot house. For the design intent we focused more on a visual privacy, when it came to acoustical privacy, each ‘cube’ is fully insulated to create privacy whereas the rest of the bedrooms are not creating privacy when in one’s respective ‘cube’.

Whats the most interesting thing you’ve learned about Buffalo itself by living in the house and pioneering a new spirit of revival in an old neighborhood?

I have learned that Buffalo is a great place to live and I believe more people should give the old neighborhoods a chance when considering where to live.

What are your future plans for the Quad House?

The plan as of now is for to continue living in it for a few years while continually improving it. From there we will most likely look into putting it on the market.

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