Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Architecture



Major Professor

George P. Dodds

Committee Members

John M. McRae, Ted Shelton


This thesis explores the power of architecture to raise the standards of dwelling in a region where housing conditions, economic stability, and environmental consciousness is considerably lower than the rest of the United States. Historically, many towns and cities in Central Appalachia were developed by coal companies as ‘coal towns’. Considering the diversity of workers in these communities, the coal industry is largely the platform for the cultural identity of Central Appalachia. As a result of coal depletion in the US, and increased regulations of pollution by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), coal companies across the region are closing mining sites and firing plants, leaving behind a trail of scarred landscapes and a fractured workforce. The failure of this mono-economy has caused the quality of living in Central Appalachia to plummet further.

This Thesis focuses on the current regional typology of manufactured houses and the use of prefabricated systems in building construction. Due to the social economic state, substandard living conditions have plagued Central Appalachia, but as a solution the industrial process of manufactured housing has provided basic affordable housing. The popularity of these manufactured houses in Central Appalachia has created a new vernacular. Unfortunately, the legacy of the traditional home in Appalachia is lost as housing has become less site-specific, less hand-crafted and more standardized equivalents to the purchase of an automobile. The stigma of these housing types is that the more expensive manufactured houses are adorned with a local vernacular of peaked roofs, dormers, and porches as an applique, but low-cost housing that supports a majority of the population is indistinguishable from manufactured houses throughout the United States. This thesis challenges the stigma of manufactured housing and attempts to reintroduce the legacy of housing in Appalachia.

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