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  • Virginia Heretick, TJHS

Dogtrot House

Being in New Orleans on the 4th of July meant fireworks and festivities all around the city. I was in town for a summer program for high schoolers, and we watched the fireworks from the top of a parking garage. Although watching the celebration from afar was not what I had imagined, when they told us they would “take us to see the excitement”, I did find something worth celebrating - the Dogtrot House.


Louisiana is really hot. Hot enough as I toured the city, I could feel my skin burning while my sandals melted to the pavement. During my trip, the daily highs were between 95-103℉, and architecture had to account for the summer heat. The Dogtrot House did just that. Usually, the Dogtrot consisted of two cabins sharing one roof with an airway between. As the bus carried us to the parking garage, we saw many dogtrot houses along the road. Mostly wooden, the buildings caught my eye with their bright colors and intricate knee braces.


Although the exterior gables can vary, the Dogtrot house structure has been constant since its popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries, usually having only one-and-a-half stories. Only a few dwellings are larger. One historical example would be at The Barrington Living History Museum in Texas. Residing inside is the Anson Jones home, a two-story, four-room Dogtrot house, which is around double the size of a classic Dogtrot house.


Until recently, this was the largest Dogtrot house, but as we’ve entered the 21st century, more builders are constructing larger, grander Dogtrot homes. The principle is simple, natural ventilation. The breezeway creates air currents that cool off the temperatures by way of passive design strategies.


With such expansions of this house type, it interests me to see how the Dogtrot house can be expanded into a larger communal building, both vertically and horizontally. Additionally, I wonder if you could make it have multiple perpendicular airways. Through exploration and design, I hope to be able to expand the Dogtrot house to make it viable for community dwellings.


What other passive design strategies would you employ in your house design?

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Where did the name come from?

The center passage was often used as the dog kennel and thus the name dog.

This curiously named house style originated out of necessity—but now is considered a modern amenity. https://www.southernliving.com/home/dog-trot-house

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About the Author:

Virginia Heretick is a senior student at Thomas Jefferson High School, Fairfax County, VA. She is an aspiring architect, passionate about art, architecture, urban planning, and environment.

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