A tornado-resilient Russian nesting doll of a home, a sleek — and rising sea level-safe — spin on the iconic shotgun shack, and an energy effecient dwelling-on-stilts have been named the three winners in the American Institute of Architects’ Designing Recovery residential design competition.

Launched this past summer by the AIA in partnership with the Make It Right Foundation, Architecture for Humanity, the St. Bernard Project, and Dow Building Solutions, Designing Recovery solicited architects to design affordable, buildable, and eco-friendly single-family dwellings that “aid in the rebuilding of sustainable and resilient communities.”

Each home design was required to be site-specific and geared to help residents living in three specific cities/regions deeply impacted by natural disasters — of both the hurricane and tornado variety — over the last several years: New York City, New Orleans, and Joplin, Mo. As the competition, a “design competition with real world impact on the lives of families who have been struck by natural disaster,” brief reads: “This competition is not only about replacing what was lost, but building back better.”

The architects behind each of the winning homes, Resilient House (NYC), Shotgun [remix] (New Orleans), and CORE House (Joplin), will receive $10,000 and see their homes be constructed in the cities for which they were specifically designed. And given that the mission of Designing Recover is “to build as many competition entries as possible,” non-winning entries that have been deemed as “feasible to construct” will also be built by the organizers with the help of volunteers and donated materials and funding.

San Francisco-based architect Michael Willis, chair of the Designing Recovery jury, provides a bit of insight into the selection process:

When examining all of the designs submitted we continually asked ourselves if this would be a house we would want to live in regardless of safety considerations. The three designs that we chose all had the ideal combination of addressing disaster mitigation and actual livability. The designs all had the sort of flexibility to be both a resilient safe haven during a natural disaster, but also serve as a dwelling that catered to family conditions and would blend into appropriate neighborhood styles without projecting a ‘bunker-like’ feeling.

Here’s a quick overview of each of the three winning homes with descriptions provided by the AIA:

Resilient House (Sustainable.TO Architecture + Building, Toronto)

… the Resilient House for New York has a layout that orients living spaces towards the sun, and minimizes interior partitions. Structurally insulated panels allow for a tightly sealed and highly insulated building enclosure. Combined with a highly efficient ventilation system and upgraded windows, these design elements project to a 30% reduction in annual energy consumption. The house will be built above the floodplain with a flood-proof foundation to ensure natural disasters will not affect the structure. By using traditional construction methods and equipment, this dwelling can be built for less than $50,000 in material cost.

Shotgun [remix] (Goatstudio LLP, New Orleans):

… the Shotgun [remix] proposal for New Orleans offers a fresh, contemporary take on a familiar local typology. Modern touches like sliding polycarbonate privacy panels, vaulted interior spaces, clean, modern detailing, an open floor plan, and a steel roof that turns and wraps the southern exterior wall for additional sun protection update the historical shotgun form to better accommodate modern lifestyles and increased environmental challenges. To help manage the threat from rising sea levels and increasing yearly rainfall, the finish floor will be elevated 7 feet above the ground plane and filter storm runoff through a perimeter rain garden, alleviating on-site ponding and reducing the load on strained city infrastructure. By employing similar construction methodologies and materials as those that have been thoroughly vetted by Make It Right since 2007, the design will be able to achieve LEED Platinum status and provide 6.25 kWh of solar energy to the owners.

CORE House (Q4 Architects, Toronto)

…CORE House in Joplin, MO is designed to address the local vernacular by combining two single-cell homes: a centrally located 'Safe House' acts as the hearth and divides a 'Perimeter House'. The Safe House contains all of the functions of ‘home’ that are necessary for a family to recover quickly from disaster and live for an extended period of time until rebuilding is possible. The walls of the Safe House are constructed of filled and anchored carbon-neutral concrete masonry units. Rainwater is collected, stored, and filtered for reuse. Locally sourced building materials were consciously considered so that CORE will have little impact on the progression of climate change, reduce the effects of debris in a natural disaster, and elevate local economies.

Head on over to Architect Magazine to read more about each of the three winning homes and view additional renderings.

Renderings: Sustainable.TO Architecure + Building, GOATstudio LLC, Q4 Architects via AIA

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Architecture of resilience: 'Designing Recovery' winners announced
Three affordable green dwellings are selected as the winners in a design competition geared to aid families impacted by severe weather.