Among the 11 recipients of this year’s AIA Small Projects awards are student-designed cabins in Colorado, a house overlooking a lake in Washington and toilet blocks clad with weathering steel in Texas.
Announced today, the awards given by the American Institute of Architects celebrate compact and low-budget architecture and installations completed in the USA over the past year.
“This award programme strives to raise public awareness of the value and design excellence that architects bring to projects, no matter the limits of size and scope,” said the AIA.
The programme, now in its 14th year, encompasses three categories: architectural designs or objects completed for under $150,000 (£118,000); projects measuring up to 5,000 square feet (465 square metres); or small buildings and installations that cost up to $1,500,000 (£1.18 million).
Read on for an overview of each Small Project Awards 2017 winner from the AIA:
La Cage aux Folles, Los Angeles, by Warren Techentin Architecture
Installed in the courtyard gallery of Materials & Applications, this project is an experimental bent steel tube structure that explores the craft of pipe bending, joining form, computational procedures, and fabrication processes into a complex structure that assumes various postures and porosities through looping and layering.
La Cage aux Folles actively engages the neighbourhood by opening the courtyard to the sidewalk as a pocket park, albeit a small one. In this way, the design team wanted the project to lay within the traditions of both landscape architecture and urbanism. Its engagement with the street provided a space for both unscripted use and curated performances.
La Cage aux Folles has become a social condenser for the neighbourhood and host to many activities during its run, including a three-person dance performance and a video animation of hummingbirds mid-flight—in slow motion—projected through multiple scrims.
Colorado Outward Bound Micro Cabins, Leadville, Colorado, by University of Colorado, College of Architecture and Planning, Colorado Building Workshop
Located in a lodgepole forest 10,000 feet (three kilometres) above sea level, these 21 unique cabins are an exploration in micro housing and prefabrication. The initial 14 cabins were designed as seasonal housing for temporary staff. To satisfy lodging and storage, the cabins were conceived as two elements: ‘box’ and ‘frame’. The ‘frame’ acts as storage for the educator’s gear while also housing the ‘box’. The second set of seven cabins were designed as year-round housing for permanent staff.
The initial concept was reduced to just the ‘box’ through the implementation of structurally insulated panels. Cedar clad porches are carved from the ‘box’ creating private spaces. The hot-rolled steel rainscreen blends with the trees, minimising visual impact. Prefabricated birch plywood brings warmth to the interiors and connects to the surrounding environment. Each set of cabins was completed in three weeks of on-site construction by 28 graduate students.
Sunset Pavilion, Firestone, Colorado, by Tomecek Studio Architecture
Standing atop and overlooking the park entry – framing panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains – the Sunset Pavilion marks the intersection of multiple paths along a regional trail system. Along with eight additional structures, the pavilion celebrates the simplicity of construction of natural materials. The prefabricated steel structure cantilevers from grade, shielding visitors from the harsh Colorado sun. Acting as a lens, the pavilion’s details emphasise the phenomenal qualities of the sun’s path.
Perforations along the overhead plane track the sun’s movement during the autumnal and vernal equinox. The steel plate and gabion walls below frame the distant view of the mountains while editing out the roadway and development in the foreground. The fluid shape of the concrete bench within invites visitors to sit, climb, recline, and view the landscape, allowing the pavilion to reference the emotional landscape present while placing it within the larger geographic context.