Tiny Homes Competition Winner Announced!


Chicago-based team wins the Tiny Homes Competition; cite personal connection to the city as an “extra incentive” to design the winning submission.


Chicago is one step closer to realizing a community without youth homelessness. The Tiny Homes Competition announces its winning project submission. Chicago-based Terry Howell, AIA, LEED GA (associate architect, Antunovich Associates), Marty Sandberg, AIA (partner, Via Chicago Architects), and Lon Stousland (associate architect, Antunovich Associates) have won the competition. They will receive a $5,000 cash prize and will build a prototype of their tiny house at the Pride Action Tank Tiny Homes Summit, taking place at UIC on April 18–19.

The Tiny Homes Competition is an international design competition launched in November 2015 which solicited speculative design proposals that would house Chicago’s youth experiencing homelessness in tiny homes. More than 250 submissions were received. It was organized by AIA Chicago, the AIA Chicago Foundation, Landon Bone Baker Architects, Windy City Times, Pride Action Tank and funded by the Alphawood Foundation.

The competition jury was made up of varying individuals working in housing for underserved communities. Juror Brent Brown, AIA, of bcworkshop in Dallas, TX, has designed a transitional tiny home community currently under construction. He was joined by Jeff Bone, AIA of Landon Bone Baker; Marisa Novara of the Metropolitan Planning Council; Sol Flores of La Casa Norte; and Benet Haller, Urban Planner at the City of Chicago. 

The team of Howell, Stousland and Sandberg met in the undergraduate design studios of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. After graduating in 2011, all three found their way to Chicago where they have continued to collaborate. With a background in traditional architecture and urban planning, they share a contextual approach to design. They believe in the power of architecture to reflect—and also influence— its surroundings, and see each project as an opportunity to make a tangible improvement to their built community.

Their design, entitled “A House for Living In”, incorporates a traditional, one-story “duplex” structure with shed roofing. It creates 11 individual tiny homes for college-age youth, along with an accompanying community space. Each unit is 336-square feet, and costs only $73.00 per square foot to construct.

According to the team, the design is a new take on the traditional Chicago courtyard-style building. Residents pass through a secured gate and access front doors through a shared courtyard that contains a community garden. Also shared are deep breezeways between individual tiny homes that serve as front porches. 

“The Tiny Homes Competition offered an exciting opportunity to apply our design approach in a familiar Chicago neighborhood, while exploring a unique housing model,” the winning team says. “Terry’s parents are long-time Bronzeville residents, and have hosted us for countless barbeque nights just two blocks from the competition site. Designing for a location with such a personal connection provided extra incentive—a chance to create something not simply beautiful, but also practical, contextual, and potentially transformative.”

Judging criteria included community planning, feasibility, creative problem solving, design quality, and program—how the design would help or hinder a youth homelessness transition plan.

Juror Benet Haller notes the big ideas and small details were well planned. He states, “The submission’s site and floor plans are very efficient. Locations for storage are well thought out and the sleeping area is nicely separated from the living area. The use of brick on the exterior is a nice touch. Everything about this submittal works well.”

Second, third and two honorable mentions are included in the final program: In second place was Dan Wheeler / Wheeler Kearns Architects; in third place, another Chicago team of Joe Villanti, AIA (senior project architect at Pappageorge Haymes), Tyler Hopwood (intern architect at Pappageorge Haymes) and Ryan Arnaudov, LEED AP BD&C (project architect, Pappageorge Haymes); Honorable Mentions were New York City-based architects David Bravo Salva and Blanca Rodriguez Peis; and Chicago-based Georgi Todorov (Pappageorge Haymes) and Petya Petrova (Pierre-Yves Rochon).


These projects will be showcased at AIA Chicago’s Small Projects Awards Party on May 5 at Architectural Artifacts. The event is free and open to the public.

Chicago-based company Price Construction will be building the model home for the Tiny Home Summit. For information on the summit, visit chicagotinyhomes.org.


Above: Wheeler Kearns's"Tiny Town" (second place)

Below: Tyler Hopwood (intern architect at Pappageorge Haymes) and Ryan Arnaudov, LEED AP BD&C (project architect, Pappageorge Haymes) in third place