The goal is to design a distinctive, energy efficient "green" dwelling on view lot in Alaska.
The building will be located on a 2.25 ac hillside lot that slopes slightly to the west, and more steeply to the south. It features mountain views to the east and ocean views to the west. A fast-flowing stream runs through the mostly forested lot. The stream corridor is heavily used by wildlife, including moose, bears, and lynx. We’d like to retain those wildlife values.
We want a house that captures the sun, the views, the natural sounds, and the solitude. The house should elicit a good feeling as one walks through it, and gains a sense of connection with the outdoors. The house should reflect honest construction, fine craftsmanship, and good design. It need not be big, or conspicuous to achieve that.
The house will be modest in size (< 2500 square feet), suitable for empty nesters who entertain their grandchildren and other family or friends on overnight visits. It may be any number of levels. It should include 2-3 bedrooms and 2-3 bathrooms. If multi-level, at least one bath and bedroom on the main living level. We’d like a family-style kitchen with conversation possible between cooks and those in the living/family gathering area. We’d like a food pantry. We’d like a quiet room (den for reading, writing, television, music). We'd like an arctic entry. We want a Tulikivi stove in the kitchen and/or main living area. The house should feature appropriate passive solar design. The house should be energy efficient and well insulated, designed to withstand heavy snow and occasional high winds (prevailing from the East). It should shield residents from road noise (to north), while inviting natural sounds (to south). We prefer honest building materials (no imitation wood or faux finishes) with low embodied energy cost. We’d like the house to reflect a timeless sensibility, so it remains appealing 50 years from now.
Things we LIKE:
Earth-sheltered walls. Green (living) roof. Generous decks or patios. Sheltering roof. Cantilevers. Interesting light and patterns. Window seats, peek-a-boo views, dining nook with bench seating, sleeping tower, movable window shutters/panels for insulation and high winds. Multi-purpose rooms. Clever storage. Possible LEED certification. Exposed beams, poles, braces—visible structure. Natural landscaping. Permaculture-- sustainable, ecological, organic, simple.
Things we DON'T Like:
Monolithic concrete or "industrial" designs. Formal dining room. Garages (we'll walk from end of driveway on a boardwalk). Lawns. Bathtubs. Granite counters.
Designs will not be judged on how many of the mentioned elements are incorporated in your design. Some are arguably incompatible, and we don't want a hodgepodge. They are offered for insight into our general esthetic sense. The design you come up with should reflect that, while allowing for expression of your own design ideas and creativity.
If it is helpful, two books that we particularly like are: “Designing Your Natural House” by C. G. Wood and M. Wells. (1992) Wiley and Sons. and “Patterns of Home” by M. Jacobson, M. Silverstein, and B. Winslow (2002) Taunton Press.
Design will be scored on how well it integrates with the building site, incorporates pleasing patterns (see references above), and has an efficient and pleasing the floor plan. We will look for unusual or novel design features that set the house part in terms of functionality, serenity, and comfort.
The design should be clearly presented in both graphical and written form. Graphics should include site plan, general floor plan, and elevations. Interior perspectives/design features are a bonus. We want enough to be able to visualize the house, and be able to work from these to develop future construction plans. When describing your work in words (250-500), think of how you might write for readers of an architectural magazine. What are the thematic and special design elements that make this design work well for us, your prospective clients?
Energy Efficiency (20%)
Homes of the future will be smaller and more energy efficient, and we want this home to reflect that. We prefer low-tech solutions (e.g., insulation, earth sheltering, passive solar) over high tech solutions (heat pumps, solar panels), and materials that have low embodied energy costs and are sustainable (e.g., cellulose, expanded cork over petrochemical products). Design should feature passive solar, keeping in mind we have long days in summer, and long, cold nights in winter.
Construction Cost and Environmental Sensitivity (20%)
Designs that minimize the construction and material costs, without undue sacrifice to design and function, will be favored. Avoid excessive ornamentation and elements that are complex and difficult to build. That said, we are willing to pay a premium for sustainable "green" materials and features.