Barry Yoakum’s eureka moment came after reading the book “Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo” by Nicholas de Monchaux, an architecture and urban design professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “The suit was developed with 21 layers to keep people from dying in space, and I thought ‘why can’t you apply those same principles to a façade?’” says Barry, a copartner at Archimania in Memphis, Tennessee. With the blessing and buy-in of the firm, Barry is doing just that on civitas, his family’s new home on a bluff overlooking a wide swath of Mississippi River.

Barry is in charge of “Vision and Collaboration” at Archimania, and as such, he’s positioned civitas as a research project for the entire firm—and, ultimately, for the wider architectural community. The lofty goal is for the house to meet the AIA2030 Challenge, Zero Energy, Zero Emissions, and LEED Platinum standards. Additionally, it’s designed for resilience, especially against the extreme weather conditions along its riverfront site. “It’s like living on the ocean,” he says. “It’s also a seismic area second only to San Francisco.”

Like the Apollo suit, the house relies on layers of high-performance materials and technologies to achieve its ambitions. They include a PAC-CLAD aluminum shell, Thermocore SIPs, a recycled steel structure, cross-laminated timber panels, movable perforated aluminum screens, geothermal radiant floors, solar hot water panels, rainwater and gray water collection, and Pella low-e glazing. “It feels very improvisational because we’re figuring things out as we go along,” says “Archimaniac” Will Randolph, “but we’re documenting everything.” 

“There are details here that we’ve never done before,” says Barry, who’s also managing construction of the house. “You can’t draw them until you build them to make them cost effective.”


Project Credits

Civitas
Memphis, Tennessee

Architect/interior designer: Archimania, Memphis, Tenn.

Builder: Barry Alan Yoakum, FAIA

MPFP Engineering: Haltom Engineering, LLC, Memphis

Electrical Engineer: DePouw Engineering, LLC, Germantown, Tenn.

Structural Engineer: OZER Structural Engineering, Memphis

LEED Certification: Entegrity, Memphis

Lighting Consultant: Benya Burnett Consultancy, Davis, Calif.

Rain Water Consultant: RainHarvest Systems, Cumming, GA

Landscape Consultant: Plants+People, Memphis

Constructability Consultant: Grinder, Taber & Grinder, Inc., Memphis

Project size: 2,798 square feet

Renderings: archimania


Key Products

Appliances: Miele

Cabinetry/Millwork/Molding/Trim: Warren Construction, JMP Products, Duravit

Cladding/Roofing: PAC-CLAD aluminum

Cross Laminated Timber: Sauter Lumber

Drywall: National Gypsum

Fasteners: Simpson Strong-Tie

Faucets: Axor

Plumbing Fixtures: Duravit, Boffi

Fireplace/Railings: GSSC Enterprises

Garage Doors/Openers: Silvelox Group

Green Decking: Robi Decking Black Locust

HVAC/Radiant Heating/Ventilation: Hydro-Temp

Kitchen Ventilation: Zephyr

Lighting: Soraa, Juno Lighting

Lighting Control/Home Control/Home Theater: Crestron

Photovoltaics: LG

Rain Water Collection: RainHarvest Systems

Roof /Truss System: Thermocore

Roof Windows: VELUX

Security System: Nest

Thermal/Moisture Barriers: Ice & Water Shield/VaproShield

Tub: Perlato

Water Filtration: Pelican Water Systems

Windows/Window Wall Systems: Pella