One of the satellite events coinciding with the American Institute of Architects 2011 Convention, which began on May 12 in New Orleans, was the announcement of the winner of a design challenge presented by DesignByMany, a web-based community of design professionals and others interested in building-design technology. The focus of this particular challenge: provide design source files for affordable single-family homes that could be built in the New Orleans area’s hurricane-battered neighborhoods.
Designers participating in the challenge were asked to develop plans for code-compliant houses in the shotgun architectural style common to the city (particularly the hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward), but also to take the houses’ energy efficiency performance well beyond code by “striving to achieve” the Passivhaus standard. The challenge asked the designers to work with either of two building sizes – a two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath with 1,000 sq. ft. of treated area, or a three-bedroom, two-bath with 1,250 sq. ft. of treated area. Lot size was limited to 40 by 104 ft.
The winning design, Low Cost / Low Energy House, presented by Sustainable.TO, based in Toronto, Canada, is one of at least 16 designs posted submitted by the May 1 challenge deadline and judged by a panel that includes Alejandra Lillo, cofounder of Los Angeles-based design firm Undisclosable; David Basulto, cofounder of architecture website ArchDaily; Calvin Kam, director of industry programs and a consulting assistant professor at Stanford University’s Center for Integrated Facility Engineering; Tray Trahan, of Trahan Architects in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Corey Saft, assistant professor in the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; and Katrin Klingenberg, executive director and lead designer at E-co lab, a nonprofit community housing development organization, and, as she is best known to GBA readers, co-founder of Passive House Institute U.S.
Rising to the challenge
DesignByMany users were encouraged to vote for their favorite designs until May 8, and the top 10 vote-getters are now under review by the judges. The top pick was featured on DesignReform — a source of free architecture tutorials, and DesignByMany’s host site – on May 12, the first day of the AIA National Convention. Winner Sustainable.TO also receives an HP Designjet T2300 PostScript eMFP, billed as the world’s first web-connected printer with scan, print, and copy functionality (Hewlett-Packard is DesignByMany’s sponsor).
DesignByMany notes that the challenge was inspired in part by the Fairview House in Urbana, Illinois, an affordable Passivhaus that since 2006 has been home to Beth Simpson, a social worker who, after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina, moved to Urbana, where she continues doing social work. Other residential projects cited as precedent for the challenge include some of the energy efficient houses designed for the Make It Right redevelopment initiative and Corey Saft’s 204House, a 1,200-sq.-ft. three-bedroom, two-bath in Lafayette.