Three live-work units (flexhouses) were built for the National Association of Home Builders Show in Atlanta 2001 as part of a joint venture between DPZ, Builder Magazine, and Beazer Homes. The goal was to bring these groundbreaking flexhouses to the attention of mainstream builders by demonstrating the versatility that is possible when living and working spaces are reunited within a single building and by providing a tangible example of how these spaces can revitalize a rundown neighborhood.
The Live-Within is a small (1,060 s.f.; 18 ft. wide) but open unit that can be built very inexpensively. This is a start-up home with a typical artist’s studio design, in which workplace and living area are fully integrated. The primary workplace is on the first floor, which can be two stories tall, and a smaller, secondary work area is above. This type is generally built on its own lot and is similar in form to a townhouse. It can be used as commercial, residential, or a combination of the two.
The Live-Above is a three-story (3,666 s.f., 24 ft. wide) unit, also known as a shopfront. The first floor is well suited for retail or a professional office. The unit has 1,400 s.f. of commercial on the first floor that can be connected or separated from the three-bedroom townhouse above. Like the Live-Within, it also provides a home office space at the top of the stairs with a full view of the living area below. This unit is designed for a small family.
The Lifespan house is a two-story (3,644 s.f., on a 54 ft. lot) unit that places the primary residential space behind the commercial space. By simply opening or closing doors, a great number of flexible configurations are possible. This unit can also accommodate an extended family and has the ability to adjust to a family’s changing needs over time. The front commercial space can be used as a two-bedroom townhouse. The majority of the house is on the ground level, making it useful for empty-nesters, and the second floor can be used as commercial or residential space. The Lifespan is designed for a larger lot than the other two and can more easily fit into a block of detached single-family homes.
Because of their immense success in Atlanta, similar small-scale projects have developed in Washington, California, the Carolinas, Texas, and elsewhere.