Canadian Architect


Portland Courtyard Housing Competition

July 29, 2007
by Canadian Architect

This open international competition aims to create spaces for families, community and sustainability in the city. The competition is open to architects, landscape architects, builders, developers, students and others interested worldwide. Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged.

The City of Portland invites you to share your ideas on the design possibilities of housing oriented to shared courtyards. Portland is promoting courtyard housing as an additional infill housing type that can provide a quality living environment at densities higher than conventional detached housing. Entrants are to suggest compelling solutions to several key challenges:

How can courtyard housing be designed to serve as an attractive option for families with children?
How can courtyards serve as useable outdoor space while also providing environmental sustainability benefits, act as a setting for community interaction while also respecting privacy needs, or serve as a pedestrian-oriented space while also accommodating cars?
How can courtyard housing avoid a purely inward focus and contribute to Portlands tradition of street-oriented urbanism?

This competition is part of a multi-pronged effort by the City of Portland to retain families with children in the citys neighbourhoods in the face of increasingly unaffordable conventional detached housing. This competition will be a key opportunity to explore how courtyard housing may help fill the need for new housing for families with children, as well as provide desirable options for other types of households.

The competition has two submission categories based on two types of infill site opportunities common in different parts of Portland:
1. Inner Portland Infill Site: 100′ wide by 100′ deep; Housing program: 4-10 units oriented to a shared courtyard with one parking space per unit.
2. Eastern Portland Infill Site: 95′-wide by 180′ deep; Housing program: 7-17 units oriented to a shared courtyard with one parking space per unit.

The courtyards may be pedestrian-only or mixed pedestrian/vehicular courtyards. Additional details are available in the competition brief.

The jury is comprised of:

Michael Pyatok, FAIA, Principal of Pyatok Architects and Professor at the University of Washington, and also co-author of Good Neighbors: Affordable Family Housing
David Miller, FAIA, Principal of the Miller-Hull Partnership and Professor, University of Washington, and also author of Toward a New Regionalism: Environmental Architecture in the Pacific Northwest
Nancy Merryman, FAIA, Principal of Roberston Merryman Barnes Architects in Portland, Oregon
Cynthia Girling, ASLA, Professor and Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia, and co-author of Skinny Streets and Green Neighborhoods: Design for Environment and Community and Yard, Street, Park: The Design of Suburban Open Space
Clare Cooper Marcus, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of Housing as if People Mattered and People Places: Design Guidelines for Urban Open Spaces
Sam Grawe, Editor of Dwell magazine
Loren Waxman, Developer, Portland, Oregon, and Portland Design Commissioner

October 24, 2007 is the submission deadline, and the results will be announced on November 14, 2007. The award amount totals $20,000, and the entry fee is $45.

For more information, please visit or e-mail

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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