As demands rise for sustainability and affordability in residential housing, many academic institutions are racing to hold an edge on innovation in their architecture programs. Syracuse University's Architecture School recently ran a competition that demonstrated their commitment to addressing these challenges, and their interest in engaging with the communities just outside their door. "From the Ground Up: Innovative Green Homes" asked teams to design efficient homes that could be built for under $150,000.
The competition criteria suggested teams be multi-disciplinary, composed of an architect, structural engineer, sustainability expert, and landscape architect, in order to be comprehensive and balanced in their approach. From the fifty-two teams that submitted proposals, three winner were selected in late January. Their design will be built on a vacant infill site in Syracuse's Near West Side neighborhood, and are expected to become a model for future revitalization and affordable development in the area.
Winners are New York's ARO and Della Valle Bernheimer for their R-House (pictured here), which is modeled off of the scale and style of the homes in the Near West Side neighborhood, but oriented and constructed precisely for maximum solar gain; Cook+Fox Architects, whose single-story, flat-roof house is made with SIPs and designed for flexibility through its lifespan; and Philadelphia's Onion Flats, who created a design that could be either stick-built or modular, and draws its energy from solar thermal tubes.
The school's sponsoring partners in this competition are not-for-profit housing group Home HeadQuarters and the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems. Their collaboration represents a strong, community-focused goal address poverty and population loss in the city of Syracuse. "The university can provide seed capital to develop strategies in a way that the marketplace can't afford to," explained Mark Robbins, Dean of the architecture school. "If we make research and design a part of the curriculum, we are building capacity for the students and for the community."
Drawings and models by the three winners and four other finalists, as well as selections from the "sketchbooks" submitted by the 52 teams that entered the competition, will be on view February 3-13, 2009 at the SU School of Architecture. The exhibition is free and open to the public.
Photo credit: Courtesy Syracuse University School of Architecture