The contest, open to new architects and architecture students, had participants vying for a chance to collaborate with Houzz on a community revitalization project. Other prizes included $5,000 to invest in their architecture career and an expenses-paid trip to the 2015 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in Atlanta. Winners were determined by the Houzz community, and they are …
Built on the last empty lot of a historic neighborhood in uptown Phoenix, Link is a spec house that uses typical builder materials in new ways. The main living area has 24-foot-wide by 10-foot-tall glass walls that slide into pockets to completely open the living area to the neighborhood, so it acts as a modern-day front porch.
The design had to receive approval from the city of Phoenix’s Historic Preservation Office for being “of its time” but also similar in size, scale, form and massing to the original houses of the neighborhood. The living area features LED strip lighting in place of traditional can or track lighting. The house has windows facing only north and south to control heat gain and allow the house to stay cool in the Southwest’s hot summers while allowing daylight to heat the concrete slab floor in the winter.
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Project: Maui cottage
This house on a 2-acre property in rural Maui, Hawaii, fits three bedrooms and one bath in less than 1,000 square feet while maintaining an open kitchen and living area for a spacious, functional feel. A large front porch takes advantage of the western views and protects the home from the late-afternoon sun. The theme of the home is a modern take on the region’s historic plantation cottages.
The compact plan was part of a larger sustainability strategy to build an energy-efficient home with healthy materials and reduce the impact of construction on the environment. The design team incorporated prefabricated walls and trusses to reduce lumber waste. Radiant barrier roof sheathing and ridge vents keep the attic cooler, and the insulation and sealing of the home were based on Energy Star standards.
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Conceptual project: Cliff Swallow Apartments
Inspired by the nest of the cliff swallow, a bird that constructs dense communities of gourd-shaped homes on vertical structures throughout North America, the Cliff Swallow Apartments are a concept project designed to address the need for new affordable housing in New York City by tapping into underutilized space in established high-density neighborhoods.
They would also add residential space where living space dis not exist, ultimately creating a mixed-use community in previously single-use buildings.
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Conceptual project: Thirsty House
Thirsty House is another concept home, designed to evoke an awareness of water shortages and propose a frugal way of living in relationship to water. It relies on natural water flow that is collected along the stretch of the house to sustain basic living needs, arranged in the order of optimized water reuse: from drinking to toilet flushing. Excessive water usage would not be accommodated.
The main structure would be composed of plastic composites and wood, both having minimum embodied water usage compared to other materials. Hydrophobic paper, water-repellent metal surfaces (a titanium coating) and glass glazing will be installed afterward for the experiential and functional quality of the house.
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Universal Design winner: Felix Ziga of Ziga Design Build
Project: Tierra de Dios (God’s Land)
The team at Ziga Design Build has created an approach to communal living with baby boomers in mind. With stated benefits such as aging with camaraderie, laughter, understanding, support of a close group of family/friends, good food from their own gardens, green living and shared activities, one can begin to see why many are choosing this type of arrangement.
The Tierra de Dios (God’s Land) project sits on a 5.6-acre tract in a quiet and semiprivate subdivision of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, just northwest of San Antonio. Shared patios, lookout towers, community gardens, water catchment/conservation systems, greywater systems and passive solar architectural strategies are all clear goals in the design of this project.