Canadian architecture firm 5468796 Architecture is one of four winners of the Housing Northwest Arkansas Professional Design Competition. Led by the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas and made possible through grant funding, the competition aimed to develop options that will provide mixed-income, attainable housing solutions for a growing population in the midwestern state with the ultimate goal of designing and building better communities.
The three-stage initiative solicited qualifications from over 100 practices with expertise in multi-unit housing from North America and across Europe, and invited a shortlist of 25 firms to design an attainable housing solution for one of five sites in Bentonville, Arkansas. The competition brief called for inspirational and practical proposals that would heighten expectations of both homebuilders and homebuyers regarding the quality of design that can be achieved with an innovative approach to mixed-income, attainable housing in the region.
The distinguished jury, comprised of Anne Fougeron (Fougeron Architecture, San Francisco), Jeanne Gang (Studio Gang, Chicago), Marlon Blackwell (Marlon Blackwell Architects, Fayetteville), Brenda Anderson (NWA Downtown Revitalization Fund, Bentonville) and The Honourable Shaun Donovan (Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Harvard University Senior Strategist) selected concepts by 5468796 Architecture, along with Digsau of Philadelphia, Kevin Daly of Architecture of Los Angeles, and Merge Architects Inc of Boston. The winners were announced on Thursday and presented with a collective prize of $50,000 USD.
With project partners Scatliff + Miller + Murray [landscape design] and JMV Consulting [environmental engineering], 5468796 has proposed what Principal Johanna Hurme calls “a 10x10x10 framework,” which connects over 200 residential units with modular mass timber construction and is built over a concrete grid of ground-accessible parking. This design framework allows for easy phasing, as the commercial areas, shared amenities, and residential units can be customized into various sizes in an effort to prioritize cost savings and increase affordability. Incorporating flexible building systems by using a modular design ensures that environmental, social, and long-term economic adaptability is possible as the needs of the community change over time. The design’s main focus is human experience, starting with the angled position of each building to establish a softer edge to the street, increase community amenity and green space, and allow natural daylight to permeate the residences.
The winning concepts will be displayed on the Housing Northwest Arkansas website, and have already been introduced to a series of local developers, realtors, and bankers in hopes of turning the designs into reality.
Images courtesy of 5468796 Architecture.