In our last installment of our House Design Contest blog entries we described what we thought were the important characteristics of a good house plan product. Lets look at some of the entries that live up to this. I believe they are significant because they roll together the best aspects of creating a product and creating good architecture at once.
Of course our first choice is our own design entry, the Lagom House.
The Lagom house is pushing the boundary in size, coming in several hundred square feet less than most other 3 bedroom homes in the contest. Obviously this will limit its appeal for some, but also extend its reach to many who can not afford to build an extra 300 sqft. Please vote for the Lagom House here.
See the rest of our choices after the link below.
Moving on to my favorites I would like to have you look at the Duval design by Content Design Group. This understated design is successful on many levels.
Here is a modern house that fits well in existing traditional neighborhoods as well as sets out a pattern for developing new neighborhoods of similar scaled and priced homes. In fact this would be an ideal neighbor to the Lagom House. The Duval makes good use of the site by creating a central outdoor space, a courtyard enjoyed from the main living space in the center of the house. The rear of the property is reserved for work - parking from an alley, gardens, and yard work tools. Have a look at it, and vote for it here.
Next take a look at the design by freelancer Tim Brennan. He has created a small 1136 sqft home, one of the few designs in the contest smaller than the Lagom House. Two bedrooms with a garage within the footprint, his subRural House design has a scandinavian austerity to it that really appeals to me.
I like this design, I like its restaint, and I like the way he has represented it in a range of situations. This house design is a good house plan product, and a size that is sorely lacking in the market. Give it a vote here.
Next I'd like you to take a look at the equilibrium house by the same named design office in the UK. In some ways this house breaks some of my rules. The dense placement of freestanding homes is a pattern once common in our cities, has largely fell out of use. More common in the US are attached "townhouses", or detached homes with wider spacing. But the pattern suggested by the equilibrium is so nice its well worth my endorsement.
The staggered footprint of the house makes great use of the site. It allows for shallow lots, and therefore narrow blocks, yet wide frontage and rear gardens that is great for integrating the driveway and cars. The floor plan is smart, and even though a UK design they seem to have pegged US expectations. I think more study of US house industry could yield more feasible cladding and construction. But I'm cutting slack here because I so like the overall design. Check it out and vote for hit here.
Next I invite you to take a look at Rober Swinburne's Simple House. Sinburne is from Vermont and his design takes into account many of the issues faced by homes located in colder climates, and as a result energy conservation is definitely on the plate here.
The Simple House is a good blend of modern and traditional sensibilities, such that a home buyer looking for a traditional house, or a home buyer looking for a modern house would probably both be satisfied by this design. I think that says a lot for the reach and appeal this design could have - I think it would be a very successful product. Construction is very conventional, and any builder could make this house without a blink. None of the edginess and design in your face of many of the other entries, but I can guarantee you that this design would outsell the other swoopy ones by a long shot. A contest winner? Maybe not, but a product winner, yes. Vote for it here.
Next have a look at the Transition House by Studio Interpretation Design. This is a house I could see existing comfortably in many US neighborhoods of homes of similar size. Its modern, it fits in a traditional neighborhood, and basically has its cake and eats it too.
It has a really nice, smart, rational floor plan, well configured for a narrow deep lot. The house would fit perfectly on a street of other homes oriented in a similar way - narrow and deep. This house could have easily been articulated with overt gestures, green lattice on the walls, wishful edgy technology, and other bells and whistles to win green points. Instead the design shows great restraint. It telegraphs the designer's understanding of what might really get built and widely adopted. This is a house that an average Jane and Joe could afford, and an average builder would have no problem building. Support it with a vote here.
Next is the Passive Solar House by Jason Roan. This was designed for the retirement house profile, so its only two bedrooms within its 1800 sqft. But its a simple and well laid out design.
Clearly something any average home builder can execute and do a fine job with. View it here, and vote.
Next have a look at the O-House by Modaby Design. This house has an interesting modular layout that allows the house to be reorganized to take advantage of sun exposure on different lots. Very clever.
The design does include a number of diagonal wall surfaces that could drive the cost up, but it would also turn out just fine if these were simplified by the owner and builder to meet a budget. The design of the house can stand up to that kind of tinkering. See it here, vote for it.
The next entry you should look at is Windswept by David Cox. This house has a great plan layout, with a car port that doubles as a shaded outdoor living space. The home office is also divided from the home which is a great feature if you find a home office distracting.
The scale of the house is realistic, and it just feels like something that can really be built. Vote for it here.
Next is the Nock House by Red Dirt Design. At a glance it appears too big for a starter house, but when you look at the plan it is composed of discrete part that could allow the house to be built in phases. The core of the house with living and bedroom spaces is a very reasonable size.
My favorite part of the plan is the slight angle between the bedrooms and the living spaces. Have a look and vote.No doubt there are more good designs, but I've not been able to scan them all. But I want to encourage you to keep the points I described in my last post in mind when you vote on the site. Don't be fooled by wishful and fancy drawings. Lets reward the house designs that point a way to actually getting good design into your hands.