Sunday, December 13, 2009

Designing a new house for a contest

We have begun working on a new house for a design contest we've entered called Who's Next and sponsored by house plan publisher FreeGreen.

Regular readers of our blog may remember that our 0751 RS House design is sold through FreeGreen's Open Source house plan market, and not here on our own site. Open Source is a great way for architects to get into the house plan business, and we've been supportive of the marketplace as a way to make good design more available via houseplans. And that brings us to the design contest. Unlike most design competitions Who's Next does not use anonymous submissions. Anonymity is usually used to rule out bias in judging, but what is lost is a great promotional opportunity. What this means is that I can share my work on my entry here on the blog and you can watch the entire process of the design coming together over the next few months. There is no requirement that we keep our work under wraps till the contest is over in order to hold anonymity. Whether we win the contest or not the design will find its way into our plan collection.

The competition offers two profiles for the hypothetical occupants. The first is called a "Starter Home" for a young couple with plans for 1 or 2 children. The second is for a couple with grown children with plans to retire in the house. Also on the agenda is to use sustainable and green design principals for the house designs. We are expected to choose one of the two profiles and work towards a solution for that scenario. While its an interesting contest we also have our own agenda to bring to the table, and in fact we are using the contest as an excuse to work through a number of issues that have been central to the ideas discussed here on the blog.

The first idea will be to create a compact and efficient house design that we see as being the way forward in the post-housing bust world. This is something we've begun promoting through our XHouse collection and we see this contest entry eventually fitting in to that plan group.

The second issue will be to specifically address sustainable building practices in our design, and eventually our plan set. We've always taken the approach that our house plans were ready to accept emerging green tech, but left this open ended. The contest entry will be more demonstrative, and the specifics will find their way into the Construction Prints.

And finally this contest entry will be our first practical application of some of the building techniques from Sweden that we have been studying and reporting about on the blog here. Our correspondent from Sweden, Scott Hedges, is going to be consulting to us and giving us feedback on how to apply some of their practices here.

Watch here for updates on the design process.


  1. Could you explain the difference between FreeGreen and for the architect and the plan purchaser. What is free about FreeGreen?

    Thanks Greg and Good Luck!

  2. FreeGreen has nothing to do with Two completely different businesses.

    What is free about FreeGreen? They offer a limited number of free house plans for download on their site. They also have memberships which allow you access to more house designs. is a traditional house plan publisher, and the only house plan publisher with rights to distribute our designs.