The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has recently announced the winners of the 14th annual Housing Awards, which aim to recognize the best housing designs across the United States.

The awards also promote the important role residential architecture and design play in people’s everyday lives.

The AIA’s jury has selected 10 homes that range from contemporary urban apartments to sustainable rural cabins, across three different categories; One/Two Family Residences, Multifamily Living and Specialized Housing.

One/Two family residences:

1. Informal House; South Pasadena, CA, by Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Inc.

Informal House, by Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Inc

Informal House by Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Inc

This house, which was custom designed for a family of four, features a number of ‘white boxes’ which accommodate living areas and ‘wooden boxes’ which hold different service functions. Boundaries between the outdoors and the interior were blurred to encourage outdoor living.

In addition, green roofs and exposed materials with a high thermal mass and polished concrete floors take advantage of the significant daily temperature changes, typical from the coastal weather, and its cool white roof, which minimizes solar gain, is critical in the home’s sunny climate.

2. Kicking Horse Residence; British Columbia, by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

Kicking Horse Residence, by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Kicking Horse Residence by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

Located in a fairly new ski destination mostly populated by timber structures, this weekend home was designed to accommodate large groups of family and friends and to provide a direct connection to the outdoors for seasonal recreation.

The house is shaped and oriented to capture daylight and views of the spectacular surrounding mountains, and to effectively shed snow from the roof following severe winter storms.

3. Park Passive; Seattle, by NK Architects.

Park Passive, by NK Architects

Park Passive by NK Architects.

This family residence is Seattle’s first Passive House certified home. Designed to capture and retain heat during the winter, the indoor air temperature would remain balanced much longer than a traditionally-built house without the opening of doors and windows.

By creating vertical and horizontal spatial connections, the design maximizes the shallow floor plate.

“This home celebrates affordability through conservation and a reduction in monthly utility bills. It serves as a showcase that living in an energy efficient home is comfortable too,” the jury said.

4. Sol Duc Cabin; Seattle, by Olson Kundig Architects.

Sol Duc Cabin, by Olson Kundig Architects

Sol Duc Cabin by Olson Kundig Architects.

The challenge for the architects was to create a compact, low-maintenance, virtually indestructible weekend house for fishing expeditions. The result was a cabin featuring rugged surface and raw materiality that respond to the surrounding wild environment while its verticality ensures safety during occasional floods from the nearby river.

The house has two levels, featuring the cabin’s entry, dining and kitchen areas on the lower floor and a minimal sleeping loft above it. While a cantilevered steel deck extends from the lower level, providing open views of the river, most of the structure – including the steel frame and panels, the roof, the shutters, and the stairs – was prefabricated off-site to reduce on-site waste and site disruption.

5. Topo House; Wisconsin, by Johnsen Schmaling Architects.

Topo House, by Johnsen Schmaling Architects

Topo House by Johnsen Schmaling Architects.

This countryside home was built to withstand the Midwest’s extreme weather conditions.

“Echoing the dramatic surface deformations that occur when wind blows over the crops and grasses of the surrounding prairie, the building skin, a high-performance ventilated rainscreen system with concrete fiber panels, is organized by 190 individually shaped, black-anodized aluminum fins of interrelated contracting and expanding shapes,” the jury said.

The house is built of sustainable and highly durable materials and features an envelope that is designed to endure the continuous severe weather conditions and extreme temperature fluctuations.

Multifamily Living:

6. 1221 Broadway; San Antonio, by Lake|Flato Architects.

1221 Broadway, by Lake|Flato Architects

1221 Broadway by Lake|Flato Architects.

This building consists of a number of residential structures placed around courtyards, and it performs 32 per cent better than any new multi-family project built to code. In addition, its energy use intensity (EUI) is 30 per cent better than the national average for large multi-family project types.

According to the jury, “this project has served as a catalyst for nearby urban redevelopment and neighborhood revitalization. Along with the complete makeover of an abandoned superstructure, passive solutions, including open breezeways carefully oriented to cool the circulation corridors, came with understanding San Antonio’s local climate.”

7. Cherokee Studios; Los Angeles, by Brooks + Scarpa.

Cherokee Studios, by Brooks + Scarpa

Cherokee Studios by Brooks + Scarpa.

The main architectural feature of this project is the building’s owner-controlled operable double screen façade system, which is 40 per cent more energy-efficient than that of the most demanding energy code in the United States.

Passive solar design strategies and proper building orientation, using the central courtyard between the two residential structures, allow for day lighting on both sides of every unit and shading, while the building itself lets natural breezes fully pass through the units for ventilation. In addition, the green roof helps to keep the building better insulated, to clean the air, and to reduce storm water runoff.

8. Merritt Crossing Senior Apartments; Oakland, CA, by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects.

Merritt Crossing Senior Apartments, by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects

Merritt Crossing Senior Apartments by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects.

Located on a downtown Oakland site between an inner city neighborhood and a freeway, this project is a high-density residential development with a mix of studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, and is focused on healthy living and energy saving.

The south side of the building facing the freeway has a layered façade that provides solar and acoustical mitigation while creating a varied experience for passing drivers. To control operating costs for the non-profit owner, the project was constructed for enhanced durability, weather protection and energy use.

Specialized Housing:

9. 28th Street Apartments; Los Angeles, by Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Inc.

28th Street Apartments, by Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Inc

28th Street Apartments by Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Inc.

This building hosts a youth training and employment program and supportive housing for youth exiting foster care, the mentally ill and the chronically homeless.

While the project entailed the renovation of a distressed historic building – a former YMCA – the historic front entry of the structure forms a neighborhood porch where community kids gather while the new addition creates a less formal side entry to the housing units above. Supportive services are offered on site and residents have access to a roof garden, laundry and lounge.

“The existing historic building spawned an efficient urban strategy on a small vacant sliver of land on the back of the building to add square footage for new updated unit types while not triggering costly parking,” the jury said.

10. Sweetwater Spectrum Community; Sonoma, CA, by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects.

Sweetwater Spectrum Community, by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects

Sweetwater Spectrum Community by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects.

Designed to be replicated as a prototype/model for long-term housing for adults with autism, this project integrates universal design and sustainability, with an emphasis on sensory stimulation and safety.

The building integrates autism specific design and sustainable design, while providing a permanent home for 16 adults with autism. Spaces were designed to reduce sensory stimulation, such as ambient sound, visual patterns and odours, and to create a simple, predictable domestic environment.

Safety and security are very important and healthy, durable materials have been utilized throughout. Residents are also able to customize their personal living spaces to accommodate their preferences and particular needs.