Affordable House Competition, Cleveland OH

This proposal was awarded third place in a competition sponsored by Progressive Architecture magazine. It is based on the premise that in a diverse society, it is undesirable (if not impossible) to impose a specific image or taste, especially in mass housing for unknown occupants.

Therefore, the proposed house is conceived as a neutral shell containing a basic armature of enclosure, circulation, and services, which subsequently can be modified by the occupants. By providing only the essential minimum, it is estimated the 1,450 square foot shell can be built for less than the $65,000 budget, and the remaining funds be given directly to the occupants to use at their discretion. The idea is to allow them to add partitions, floors, finishes, etc. to meet their specific needs and tastes.

A proportional system using the Golden Section and the square reflects the belief that—because it is about comparative rather than absolute sizes—proportion by its nature is a strategy of affordability, imbuing a small house with a sense of spaciousness and unity.

The house rejects the notion of a sophisticated technological solution to the problems of flexibility and cost. Toward this end, spaces are sized and arranged to allow many variations using simple means such as stud partitions. It is assumed the house will be built by the most cost-effective technology locally available—probably wood siding over standard frame construction.

The project does not respond to its traditional context through explicit stylistic references or mimicry. Rather, it attempts to relate in a less obvious way through consistent siting (frontage facing the houses and side facing the apartment building), similar massing proportions, and the plainspoken quality of its appearance.