Contest Results

After the weeks of waiting it is time to announce the winners.

But before we get to the exciting part let me first give big “thank you” to all the contestants for the participation and of course for the hard work they all put in the designs submitted. I was very happy to see many ingenious and beautiful solutions. I truly believe that the architects are people with power to shape our everyday environment – for better or for worse. There is truly no such thing as small task: a building, a doorway, a staircase… first only abstract lines on a piece of paper, when realized will serve and affect people using it or even just passing by. For many years to come.

I am an idealist and I would like all architecture to be design with the goal of serving the function AND adding beauty to all our lives. I organized this contest hoping to promote this idea – if only on a small scale. I am convinced that all of the people who made an effort to participate will add great contributions to the world we live in. I am looking forward to see what they will do!

I would also like to thank all the family, friends, teachers and colleagues who supported the contestants. I am sure you made and continue making a great positive impact on those young people.

Last but not least, I want to thank Davide Giannella of Acadia Architecture who graciously agreed to be the judge for this competition. His kind help and guidance are greatly appreciated.

We had fun with looking at all the entries and certainly enjoyed many interesting ideas and novel concepts, BUT – there can only be three winners. So, here we go:


  • 3rd prize, the audience pick, $250 and professional photography*, is awarded to Juan Cequera (Technical University Berlin/UC Berkeley cooperation) for the highest number of  audience votes (93)

  • 2nd prize, the sponsor pick, $750 and professional photography*, is awarded to Erling Berg (Academy of Art University, San Francisco) for the functional and appealing design that that is livable as well as in harmony with the environment. We liked the use of locally sourced materials and the simple, understated nature of the building.

  • 1st prize, the judge pick, $1500 and professional photography*, is awarded to the Allied Arts & Architecture University of Oregon Team for the ASH House Design. We liked the separate public and private wings with a transparent, thin tendon connecting them giving access to the rear courtyard.  We think it gracefully embraces the site - instead of just landing a large volume it provides a more organic layout. The unusual angles help getting away from a rigid floor plan and afford best views. The striking characteristic of this design is how it uses vernacular shapes, simple gabled and shed roofs espouse a modern open floor plan, there’s no pointless search for avant-garde shapes, but tranquil volumes rendered inviting via large glazed openings on the walls like on the roofs. Locally sourced materials, the attention to the ludic side of the lifestyle with a rumpus room, climbing walls, stepladders, invite to a playful experience of the space. The outdoor mudroom and the transparent canopy by the garage provide an informal, non-pretentious entry point and attitude to this house in the woods. Finally the renditions of the projects are also done tastefully and with an artsy edge.

  • We would also like to give a special award, professional photography*, to Talyssa D'avila of Woodbury University in San Diego. We really liked that she made an extensive research and effort to update existing 1950’s houses in a typical suburban neighborhood. She provided different options for varied lifestyles and the renovations included eco features (rain water collection, solar energy for charging station).

* professional photography award is a one-time photography service of either an architectural model or completed building. Consists of a 3 image package production and professional retouching. Valid for 5 years.


We ask that the winners contact us via email to claim the awards:

Good luck with future endeavors to all of you.

Contest closed for judging

We have officially arrived to the judging time! With total of eight entries, from seven schools and three states, we will now be hard at work selecting the winners. Not an easy task considering this Contest have turned out to be embodiment of "quality over quantity" principle:-)

Please check back this webpage on September 1 to see who won!

Submission deadline extended

Due to low number of entries, most of which were submitted last minute, we decided to extend the contest submission deadline by two weeks. This will also postpone the Contest winner announcement:

New submission deadline: August 15, 2015

New winner announcement date: September 1, 2015

Great thanks to all who submitted their entries so far.

I you know a friend or a colleague who might want to enter the contest - share the word!

If you were thinking about submitting your entry but run out of time, there is still chance. Don't delay this time.



Julio Rodriguez, Cal Poly Pomona

The Palma Retreat is a 1,986 square foot home located in North Palm Springs (5 minutes driving distance) away from the heart of Downtown Palm Springs, CA. With its rich progressive culture and life style, the Palma Retreat is an oasis away from the city that still resonates with the life style of the community. Palm Springs is a desert setting with temperatures ranging from 90 to over 100 degrees.  The nearby mountain pass funnels wind into valley, providing some relief to the city from the heat

This residence takes advantage of the geography two main renewable energies, solar and wind, to create a comfortable living environment.   It is rotated 45 degrees with the public space oriented north to allow maximum natural light to enter the main gathering space.  Photovoltaic solar panels are installed on the main roof to provide power to the building and heat water.  Drought tolerant plants cover the lower roof to reduce heat gain to the private program on the south facing side of the home.  The long roof overhang minimize direct solar gain to the house and provides additional shading to the home.

This retreat exhibits an indoor outdoor relation.  The public spaces feature an open concept plan that creates a richer space experience. All the bedrooms have a beautiful view into the back mountain while the public space looks onto the endless natural open landscape. An open pool is also introduced to act as a cooling pond to the house during the day. The intent of this house is to be part of its environment and its large 15 feet high windows allow the outdoor living space to come into the house enlarging the experience of the public space. The outdoor living space consists of an entertainment living room located right next to the pool with an outdoor kitchen.

Sustainability goes beyond the use of recycled materials.  It is the utilization of local materials, local trades, and careful selection and assembly of materials that allow the structure to gracefully age. The house utilizes sustainable building materials and methods of construction. The building is designed with two structural methods. The public space is designed with a moment frame structure to allow both vertical and horizontal spaces allowing for maximum clear story walls for natural lighting. The private spaces are designed with concrete blocks for thermal insulation. Two poured in place concrete thermal mass walls that are 18 inches thick by 11 feet high unite the public and private spaces.  The lower green roof with spray foam insulation helps reduce the heat gain into the structure.  The higher roof has a concealed steel frame roof with spray foam insulation within the structure with Cool Roof Technology membrane providing additional protection against heat gain.

Team Project, Allied Arts & Architecture University of Oregon

ASH House

Combining Zero Emission Building (ZEB) standards with Pacific Northwest lifestyles, the ASH House is designed as a passive home for the active and growing family. Located in the beautiful rolling hills of Eugene, OR, the home provides a deliberately designed and planned stage for the everyday drama of a young family's life. The goal of the house is to find efficiency in both construction and space by focusing on the overlap of interior and exterior spaces.

The form is found by separating the private and public spaces into two volumes which are splayed to provide panoramic views and privacy where needed. The main entrance is located in the tendon which connects the two volumes. The approach provides a glimpse of the views to be had from inside the house. A protective canopy guides you into the exterior entry space where a sheltered coat room provides ample storage for rain gear and hobby equipment. The public volume is an open entertaining space with expansive views of the Laurel Hill Valley. Glass wall panels open to bring the outdoors in and expand both the interior and exterior living spaces. A lofted space provides an at home office and guest room which looks out into the double height living space.

A rumpus room divides the private volume and provides multiple layers of space for the kids to play when Oregon rains are keeping them inside. A climbing wall accesses a net which spans most of the room. The kids rooms are joined and amplified by hidden spaces accessed by built in ladders. A large master bath and extended hallway insulate the master suite from the activity in the rest of the house where a double height space and expansive glazing provide a serene getaway from hectic lives.

In order to reach ZEB standards the building needed to be highly insulated and constructed from local sustainably harvested or reclaimed materials. The home is clad in reclaimed metal barn paneling and wood boards which are charred in order to increase lifespan and decrease maintenance. Reclaimed timber and a secondary stud wall provide structure and 12” deep walls for extremely high insulation values. Passive shading and ventilation systems are used throughout the house to decrease cooling load while maintaining a high level of glazing. In order to offset carbon emissions caused by the production and transportation of materials, solar water heaters and a photovoltaic solar array producing 12,315 kWh/year is utilized.

Erling Berg, Academy of Art University

Villa Linear, Los Gatos, CA

The main challenge of this project was to fit the 2000 square feet house on its very narrow site and still maintain its surrounding trees and vegetation. To maximize the foot print the house follows the plot boundaries on all 4 sides, pushing the house forward on its site to maintain the trees in the back of the plot.

The house opens to the front with a small yard and a patio as the back of the house is dense with trees. An interior corridor fuses the private zones in the back of the house with open social zones of dining and living in the front. The open space in the front of the house is divided where the main living space is lowered to gradually get closer to nature and the outdoor patio.

The materials used in this project will have reduced maintenance and replacement costs over the buildings’ life span using long lasting materials. The building materials, systems and components are found locally or regionally saving energy and resources in transportation to the project site. All wood used in this project is certified and comes from responsibly managed California forests. The materials are also manufactured with resource-efficient processes including reducing energy consumption, minimizing waste (recycled, recyclable and or source reduced product packaging), and reducing greenhouse gases.

Strategically placed windows and skylights provide not only great amounts of natural daylight but also natural ventilation. Cold air flows into the house and continues through the main corridor seen in the cross section where warm air flows out through the skylights.

Aniket Nagdive, Iowa State University

Organic Progression

In an urban milieu of Chicago this residential building along the Lake Michigan, stand unique with complementing to its surrounding. The structure in this landscape feels something contained rather than a rigid framework. Exposed concrete and brick walls are systematically designed to allow volume of air and light to pass through the building. The spaces are designed considering the usability of the area and its connectivity with the outside world. The juxtaposing of the spaces are done in such a way that it feels they are evolve in an organic progression. The outside sitting space is oriented towards Lake Michigan which gives a canonical view of the surrounding. The sitting lounge consist of two unique spaces, an alcove library in which we can enjoy reading in an enclosed space and a visual corner, I call it as a magical sit out, where we can see an infinite Lake Michigan along with the building skyline. Two bedrooms with attached bathroom are located towards west which are accessible through dreaming space. Dreaming space is a semi enclosed transparent roof space between two bedrooms where we can rest and see the night sky for long hours, hence entering towards dream world. The south is consist of kitchen /dinning space along with one bedroom which are connected with the outside view of the surroundings.

Sarah Ward, Iowa State University

The Tier House

The Tier House is designed as a single-family residence suited for the Midwestern region of the United States, notable for both its hot summers and its extremely cold winters.  Its name comes from both its form and function.  The three tiers of building design: basic building design, passive systems, and active systems, are implemented in order to provide a beautiful, simple, and attainable model that can be applied to many neighborhoods.

Tier 1: Basic Building Design

The design takes advantage of simple geometry.  By maintaining a rectangular footprint, the surface-to-volume ratio remains low, which helps conserve heat in winter. The East and West sides of the house have high windows, which are shaded from direct light by the roof overhang.  All exterior walls are heavily insulated and have rain screen cladding systems that can be customized to suit the aesthetic desires of the homeowner.

Tier 2: Passive Systems

Throughout the building envelope, the thick walls are used for thermal mass.  An entryway the entire length of the northern exterior wall is also incorporated into the design as a weather shield.  The entryway, or vestibule, allows for an interior curtain wall, which lets light enter into the public spaces of the house (by way of upper exterior windows), while keeping out the cold.  The southern living spaces also benefit from high thermal mass and low infiltration provided by the wall adjacent to the garage.  In addition to the thermal mass aiding in summer by retaining cold air, the high roof also allows heat to rise.  This raises the amount of the day when rooms can have an adequate thermal comfort level without heavy use of mechanical systems.  The tall roof also provides opportunity to create ceiling clouds of different heights.  This allows for control of the intimacy or grandness of a space.  It also creates beautiful reveals of materials and lighting conditions.

Tier 3: Active Systems

A fireplace is located on the North side of the house between the two major public spaces.  Its location is not only good for thermal comfort, but also defines a social gathering space and focal point of the house. 

The roof is tilted upwards towards the North side of the house.  The slope to the South has the opportunity to collect rainwater for toilet flushing at the top most tier, and the lower roof section can collect rainwater for watering plants.  The low Southern elevation and high Northern elevation is also ideal for solar harvesting.­­­­­

Megan Dougherty, NewSchool of Architecture & Design

TRANSITION | a residence in Encinitas, CA

By altering the perception of what defines indoor and outdoor spaces, the Southern California dream of experiencing beautiful weather follows residents through every space in the home. Large skylights, floor to ceiling glazing, trellising, and the continuation of exterior finishes to the interior of the home blurs the line between indoor and outdoor. An orchard courtyard is situated in the center of the house and surrounded by glazing to allow additional light into circulation spaces and allow transparency throughout the house.

The only spaces completely enclosed from the rest of the structure are the private spaces for the owners including their master suite and guest bathroom. This home is designed for a couple close to retirement. It is ideal for entertaining and comfortable for the owners. Overnight guests have a place to stay, but these sleeping nooks are open to the rest of the house, with little privacy. Areas inhabited a majority of the time by the owners are double height, while areas mostly inhabited by guests are single height.

Although the garage is separated from the rest of the structure by a door, the glazed walls allow for a visual connection. The living room, dining room, foyer, and kitchen inhabit one large area, which spreads onto an outdoor terrace. In addition to a circulatory connection, a program connection is also included with a shared indoor/outdoor fireplace between the living room and terrace. To allow easy entry into the home, a flat path is cut into the hillside at the sidewalk level. Steps lead visitors through an open entry way to the front door, which is hidden from the street.

Plentiful opportunities for natural ventilation and daylight, along with a solar panel array on the roof allow this coastline home to be energy efficient and support a sustainable lifestyle.

Juan Cequera, Technical University Berlin/UC Berkeley (cooperation)

Simplicity and Beauty-Escape House:

Stop for a moment and hold breath...

When did we actually turn off the cell phone for the last time. How long is it ago that we didn‘t had our eyes stuck to a screen? We live in a complex and hectic world. Every day we are exposed to a variety of different stimuli which enter our mind through all of our five senses. Especially cities are places where it is hard to find a little spot where actually nothing happens.

I chose to design a refuge for those who need a break from this world, maybe to gather energy, to be with themselves, with nature or a hand of friends. This remote place near the Saragota Open Space Reserve / San Jose reveals it‘s beauty for those who are willing to spent time in calmness. A broad view from the mountain into the valley exposes the distance to the city and shows the proximity to simple things. This house is for those who need a place to find equilibrium again, a remote place to hide from this noisy environment we face each and every day.

Idea was to offer a place which goes back to where humanity comes from and something most of the people long for; simplicity. Simplicity within the design, the material, the presentation.

The building consists of seven simple boxes, which vary in size and form according to their purpose. All gathered around a void space, the courtyard. This courtyard is as well the connective element. The outside as the linking part of all rooms/needs of the user. Another important idea of the inner yard is to be outside but not be exposed. The house doesn‘t reveal itself too much to the world outside. Windows are placed high enough to protect from foreign views. Light find its way through the ceiling and at night time beautiful clear views to the starry sky are provided.

Due to the color of the concrete this conglomeration of boxes almost disappears within the rock formations. It should not compete or disturb but peacefully coexist with nature or even be a part of it. This introverted hideaway gifts peace, harmony and balance for the user and its guests.

It is humanities best seat in theater of nature.

Talyssa D'avila, Woodbury University, San Diego

Sheltering Interjections | Talyssa D’avila

Opening Statement: This project will focus on current living habits, qualities of life and spatial organization in order to re-distribute, re-adapt, re-shape, re-evaluate and re-configure the way we dwell in our homes. The subject area is the 1950’s typical suburban single family home in Clairemont, San Diego, California. The architectural strategy is acknowledging that the existing living conditions are flawed and not focused on contemporary comforts, efficiencies of space, systems and structure.  This exploration is developed by generating a series of scenarios manipulating the typical model with a hierarchy of rules, allowing for hybridization of the dwelling. The hybrid system provides the necessary flexibility  to  sustain  future  habitation,  emphasizing  sustainability,  physical  and  emotional  health, material quality and energy standards.


My Developed System:

I developed three systems:  Subtract, Adapt, Detach. These three systems will begin to change the landscape of this community through sustainable and flexible modifications to the existing household. The first example is subtract, which will take the existing single family home and through subtraction physically remove a portion of it for efficiency of space, more natural light and to create indoor/outdoor spaces in the form of external courtyards. The next is adaptation which is to add square footage to a portion of the home in order to expand the spaces that are uncomfortably small for its use or in order to increase density and add another individual or family as a rental unit but for code purposes a “guest unit” and lastly the system of detachment is to develop a unit on the property that will provide additional space without modifying the existing for the purposes of additional space for an increase in density or necessity for more space.


Family Scenarios

Now getting into the details of the project I chose to interview and analyze 3 families. The first family is the Detach 15 family with economic variances: in this plan I reconfigured the main house by adding external courtyards by removing and opening up specific walls, I enlarged the kitchen and family room spaces because that is where time is spent the most and reduced the garage space for it to serve half as a workshop and the other half as a normal garage. The detached unit was added due to the family’s economic variances and necessary additional income. The unit can be zoned as a guest unit, it has its own access which maintains privacy for main house and itself. The key sustainable aspects of this unit is water and energy collection, interior flexible built-ins for flexible spaces and the use of natural light.


The second family is Subtract 11 Work/Live. This plan emphasizes on the subtraction of spaces, internal courtyards, more natural light, converting the garage into a home office large enough for client meetings, and with the flexibility to be transformed also into a guest unit in the future. Since I am replacing the use of the garage to now serve as a home office I extended the roof over the permeably paved driveway and created a carport.


Finally the third family is Adapt 09 the Changing family: Kids are going to college and it’s not necessary to maintain all rooms anymore so I added a rental income to family by adapting a studio space with its own private entry and courtyard, where It used to be a dead space since people don’t really use the setback areas since they are awkward spaces. By subtracting certain spaces I created more indoor outdoor relationships. I also exposed the beauty of the original structure and emphasized the program outdoors.


Structure and Sustainability:

I developed a roof collection system that can collect both energy and water. The roof collects water in the form of rain and condensation. The solar cloth is designed to funnel the condensation/humidity of the evening and also the rain into underground water tanks. The carport serves as a charging station with the energy collected from the sun. And finally the solar cloth also serves as a double façade – providing a solar buffer space. That concludes my project.

Contest Details


Design of a contemporary residential building, one level, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, attached garage and total area no greater than 2,000 sf. Floor plan and ad least one rendering required for entry. Winners will be judged on 1. Adherence to contest rules 2. Green features and functionality of the design 3. Aesthetic aspects and interesting/novel features of the design. Contest is open to 2015 architectural school graduates only. No affiliates of Acadia Architecture or Agnieszka Jakubowicz PHOTOGRAPHY can enter the Contest. By submitting your entry you grant Acadia Architecture and Agnieszka Jakubowicz PHOTOGRAPHY the right to use the submitted design on their websites, brochures and other promotional materials, both in electronic and print format, for unlimited period of time. Entrants remain the sole owners of the submitted designs. Organizers have the right to disqualify unqualified submissions and to change the dates and/or cancel the contest.


How to enter:

Email your contact info (must include your first and last name, your school, your graduation date, the name of your advisor, your email and phone number) and your submission to by July 31, 2015.

Submission must consist of short written explanation of the design concept, design floor plan and ad least one rendering. Images and floorplans must be submitted in high resolution jpeg, tiff or bitmap format. Each entry will be posted on the contest page, where it can be viewed, commented and voted on.


Winner selection:

First prize, professional pick, judged by Davide Giannella of Acadia Architecture. Second prize, sponsor pick, judged by Agnieszka Jakubowicz of Agnieszka Jakubowicz PHOTOGRAPHY. Third prize, audience pick, judged by the highest number of “likes” design gathers on the contest entry website. Award decisions are final and cannot be contested.


Important dates:

July 31:                                               Submission deadline

August 15:                                         Announcement of contest winners

TBD:                                                   Awards reception in Los Gatos, CA, with light refreshments.


Contest Website: