Good Design. Sustainability. Affordability?

Rarely could these ever describe the same project, much less a single attitude towards housing. In 2003, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA, launched an open competition with these objectives in mind, and the results proved to be contrary. 440 entrants took house plans from Habitat for Humanity and turned them into environmentally friendly designs for low and moderate-income families.

Currently showing at the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota are some of the results of the HOME House Project competition. Projects ranged from traditional vocabularies to the futuristic, all of them integrating building ideas such as prefabricated and recycled materials, passive heating and cooling, and rain water recycling.

The exhibit has gone beyond putting the winning entries on display. The Weisman showing of the HOME House Project has focused on the problems and effects created by the lack of affordable housing. Photographs on display by University of Minnesota students document the human effect of such complex social issues. Sustainable ideas by local architects and designers in the form of drawings, models, and recycled-material furniture are also showcased, as are artworks interpreting the cultural and emotional idea of “home.”

The original competition was chronicled in a book which includes essays and commentary on how democratic values are reflected in housing quality, and the responsibilities of architects, by architectural critics Michael Sorkin and Steve Badanes (respectively.) The exhibit is showing at the Weisman through April 30.

+ The HOME House Project Exhibit
+ The HOME House Project book (MIT Press)