As land prices continue to rise and supertall skyscrapers flourish, there’s been a resurgence of smaller, more intimately crafted spaces that prize attention to detail over grandiose statements. Accessory dwelling units (ADUs), tiny homes, backyard studios, and obsessively detailed retail and restaurants are blowing up across Instagram and design-obsessed blogs. Whether it’s a self-constructed, modest wood cottage built with knowledge from A Pattern Language; the Olivia Wilde–designed tiny home commissioned by Dunkin’ Donuts; or a Beijing teahouse clad in polyethylene bricks by Kengo Kuma, these small spaces have captured the imagination of the public as well as architects. The reasons should be obvious. They’re photogenic, self-contained worlds that can reveal themselves—and the design narrative—more easily than the average skyscraper. Small spaces bring with them a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The spatial constraints are obvious, but programming and mechanical considerations can hamstring the most ambitious plans. On the flip side, the flexibility, low cost, quick construction times, and required attention to detail can result in truly experimental (and beautiful!) spaces. When The Architect’s Newspaper selected the 2018 Best of Design Awards winners for small spaces, the editors looked for exemplary projects that made the most out of their miniature means. From a mobile espresso bar in Colorado that took home top honors to a cabin perched above the White Mountains region in New Hampshire, the following projects rose above the rest in 2018. Birdhut Studio North Windermere, British Columbia Perched in the temperate forest that blankets the mountains of the Columbia Valley is an A-frame cabin that welcomes both humans and birds. With 12 nesting areas built into the project’s facade, Studio North has designed a fractalized birdhouse that also fits two humans. The 100-square-foot cabin is a passive intervention in the landscape. Nearly all of the materials used to build the retreat were locally scavenged. Lodgepole pine felled by a recent forest fire was employed to build the cross bracing that lifts Birdhut 9 feet off the ground, and the timber for the deck and cladding were taken from an older cabin. Eight-millimeter-thick polycarbonate panels clad both sides of Birdhut and, much like a greenhouse, trap sunlight to heat the interior. The translucent panels also visually dissolve the hut into the canopy. Circular windows on either side of the treehouse provide passive ventilation. Cabin on a Rock I-Kanda Architects White Mountains, New Hampshire You could call it glamping, but don’t call it easy. When Massachusetts-based I-Kanda Architects was tasked with designing a cabin for a family of four on a rocky granite outcropping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, uneven topography proved both a challenge and an inspiration. Instead of leveling the precariously peaked site, the 900-square-foot cabin cantilevers out atop nine hand-poured concrete footings. Because of the limited amount of granite the team had to build on, a loft area was added, and the cabin’s massing was sloped and carved away to prevent snow buildup, follow the natural contours of the site, and preserve views of the surrounding mountains. A simple material palette of birch planks and sheetrock keeps the interior light and playful even in the dim winter months and lends gravitas to the black wood stove. The cabin’s framing members were precut and assembled on-site, allowing the team to quickly assemble the building despite its complex geometry. Sol Coffee Mobile Espresso Bar Hyperlocal Workshop Longmont, Colorado Designing a mobile coffee bar that would bring high-quality craft roasts to discerning customers on the street was a challenge that held personal stakes for Andrew Michler; he is both the principal of Masonville-based design firm Hyperlocal Workshop and a co-owner of the coffee bar itself. In order to bring the full cafe experience to a 1979 Toyota Dolphin Camper, Hyperlocal had to balance the energy requirements of a fridge, water heater, espresso machine, grinders, and brewers against the truck’s 115-square-foot footprint. Instead of a smoky diesel generator, the team installed three 345-watt solar panels on the truck’s roof—enough to power the mobile coffee bar for the entire day. The camper was wrapped in translucent polycarbonate panels that silhouette the machinery within and cut a unique mountainous figure that makes it recognizable to customers. The barista window was placed at the back of the truck and the floor was lowered to allow employees to interact with customers at eye level. Further, a U-shaped galley counter system was used to optimize barista workflow—Michler claims the truck can serve 50 drinks an hour with “minimal wait times.”
Posts tagged with "small projects":
The Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects this week honored tiny, often overlooked work in its fifth annual small projects awards, set to take place May 1 at Chicago's Architectural Artifacts. Architect P.K. VanderBeke took home top honors for her firm's Live/Work Gallery project, a “romantic ruin” sheltered within a century-old factory building in Chicago. Seven firms won additional awards for a variety of work, including a “box within a box” studio by Froeilich Kim Architects, Dirk Denison's cast aluminum table, and an elegant kitchen from MAS Studio. One winner was for work on another award trophy—MGLM Architects were recognized for designing a new Acanthus Award for the Chicago-Midwest Chapter of the Institute of Classic Architecture & Art. AIA Chicago executive vice president Zurich Esposito said the focus on small projects highlights good design work that isn't often celebrated. “With the improved economy, home and business owners are getting back to expansions, or thinking about tackling improvement projects,” Esposito said in a statement, “and it pays to hire an architect.” Six firms also received citations of merit. View a complete list of winners on AIA Chicago's website. Here are some more photos of the P. K. VanderBeke's Live/Work Gallery by photographer Janet Mesic Mackie (unless otherwise noted), provided by AIA:
Big projects command the most media attention, but small works of art and architecture can still make a splash. That’s the ethos of AIA Chicago’s fourth annual Small Projects Awards, which last week named 13 honorees among 96 entries that included Chinatown’s new boathouse, a barn-like complement to Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth house, and an un-built “Safe House” for tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri. The winners fell into one of five categories: 1,001-5,000 Square Feet, 500 Square Feet and Under, 501-1,000 Square Feet, Objects, Un-built Buildings. (Last year's winners.) Little You is a speech therapy center built with a modest budget of $154 per square foot. Made of black manganese modular brick and clear anodized aluminum, the modern building embraces the neighborhood’s 50s-era commercial building stock. Mies’ archetypal modernist home, the Farnsworth House, is sinking. While preservationists decide how to minimize damages from future floods, the Barnsworth Exhibition Center provides temporary exhibition space for Edith Farnsworth’s wardrobe. Recycled lumber scraps from the circular-plan barn went to create an end-grain floor. Not attempting to out-Mies Mies, the Barnsworth instead nods to the site’s agrarian setting. Safe House won the un-built buildings category for its mission to provide refuge from storms like the tornado that destroyed much of Joplin, Missouri in 2011. Built with insulated concrete forms, from foundation to exterior walls to roof, the efficient construction method reduces energy bills by 50 percent, according to designers Wrap Architecture. The concrete roof is left exposed, pattern imprinted and sealed. Screens are rated to wind forces of 175 mph, so a safe room is included for the most severe storms. Read about all the entries here.
The Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects honored 107 projects with its annual small project awards last Friday, putting the spotlight on objects, small structures, and small firms. According to the AIA Chicago, "the goal of this award program is to raise public awareness of the value that architects bring to small projects and to promote small practitioners as a resource for design excellence." This year, the third year for the awards program, small projects were honored in four categories: Additions/Remodeling, Kitchens, New Construction, and Small Objects. “Big ideas and transformational spaces come from creative people, and those people are at firms small and large,” AIA Chicago Executive Vice President Zurich Esposito said in a statement. “The Small Projects Awards reward that innovative thinking that works on a smaller scale.”