Ahead of the Tiny Homes Summit, AIA Chicago competition takes a big look at tiny houses

Midwest Urbanism
Four vacant lots in Chicago's South Side Bronzeville Neighborhood will be the site of AIA Chicago's tiny Homes Competition.

Four vacant lots in Chicago’s South Side Bronzeville Neighborhood will be the site of AIA Chicago’s tiny Homes Competition.

As part of this upcoming April Tiny Homes Summit at the University of Illinois Chicago, the AIA has launched the Tiny Homes Competition. Organized by AIA Chicago, in partnership with Landon Bone Baker Architects, Pride Action Tank, Windy City Times, and a long list of additional local and national advocacy groups, the competition seeks new modular alternatives to affordable and subsidized housing.

My Micro NY to rise in Manhattan. (Courtesy nARCHITECTS)

Recent years have seen other major cities investigated micro housing as an option for affordable housing. My Micro NY to rise in Manhattan. (Courtesy nARCHITECTS)

Sited on four conjoined lots in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, the competition also hopes to engage a conversation on Chicago’s large city-owned vacant lot surplus. One module from the winning proposal will be constructed and presented at the spring summit.

The competition will specifically address homelessness among young adults between the ages of 18–24, a group that makes up 31 percent of Chicago’s unsheltered homeless population and 19 percent of the sheltered homeless population. Proposals will outline planned 12-unit developments in which residents will have a safe secure space to sleep, study, and store their belonging. The brief also asks for a 1,200 square foot communal space and secure bike storage to be integrated into the overall site plan.

The 350 square foot units themselves will include bathrooms, food storage and prep area, and sleeping area. With a $30,000 limit on material and mechanical systems, teams are being asked to design units that can be produced for under $60,000. The brief also stipulates that the units will follow city building codes, while zoning variances will be obtained to allow for the unique configuration of the projects.

Now open, digital presentation boards are due January 30th, with winners being announced in March 2016. Jury members include city officials, architects and advocates. Winners will be awarded $5,000, as well as an additional $5,000 to develop construction drawings.

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