2011 Recipient | AIA Housing Awards

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R-House | Notes of Interest

This prototype residence in Syracuse, New York, is called “R-House.” The design was a competition-winner as part of an initiative to revitalize the blighted Syracuse neighborhood of Westside. R-House presents an affordable, innovative paradigm: minimal- to- net-zero energy consumption embodied in architecture that is meant to nurture the spirit and engage the community as much as it is meant to perform in terms of cost and sustainability.

R-House is a significant opportunity to demonstrate the successful application of innovative building strategies in a cold climate. The house is designed to meet the German Passivhous ultra-low energy standard, utilizing an extremely well-insulated exterior envolope, an efficient recirculating heating and ventilation system, and high performance windows that optimize solar gain.

The scale and form of R-House engage the diversity of existing housing stock. Humble materials such as concrete and wood imbue warmth and integrity. The interior is airy and bright; a two-story tall space is lit by large south-facing windows. The 1,100 square foot plan is designed to grow from a two-bedroom to a three- or four-bedroom house, simply by extending the second floor over the living space.

The durability and adaptability of the design, as well as the superior energy efficiency, are made affordable due to simplicity of form and modesty of materials. This makes R-House a vital tool for strengthening the physical and social structure of the Westside neighborhood, and for building a resilient community.

Additional Credits

  • Photo Credit: © Richard Barnes

Jury Comments

This is an exciting idea. There are such great mass production possibilities.

We were so happy to see that a passive house entered. It is strengthened by its highly functional and compact plan.

A new slant on sustainability!

2011 AIA Housing Awards Jury

  • Katherine Austin, AIA, Chair
  • Katherine Austin Architect
  • Sebastopol, Calif.
  • Claire Conroy
  • Residential Architecture Magazine
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Mike Jackson, FAIA
  • Historical Preservation Agency
  • State of Illinois
  • Springfield, Ill.
  • Luis Jauregui, AIA
  • Jaurequi, Inc.
  • Austin, Tex.
  • Marilys Nepomechie, FAIA
  • Florida International University Miami
  • Coconut Grove, Fla.

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