Courtyard Living in Portland


Keith Rivera and Kristin Anderson—Santa Barbara, CA

So many of our cities are designed around the traditional model of house facing street with backyard behind; in newer suburbs the car and garage dominate the front; in older cities there are often networks of forbidding back lanes. In Portland, Oregon, the City sponsored a competition to look at an alternative: the courtyard plan. According to Metropolis,

The competition promotes courtyard housing as an affordable way of increasing neighborhood densities without sacrificing public space and environmental sustainability. The courtyard model also extends Portland's tradition of street oriented urbanism. "Suburban houses avoid the street," said Mark Gillem, a competition director and a professor of architecture at the University of Oregon. "The courtyard can engage it."


Inner Site Honor Award- Keith Rivera and Kristin Anderson—Santa Barbara, CA
This project clusters six freestanding structures around a permeable pavement courtyard that also accommodates slow moving vehicles. Semi-private patios and front porches border the courtyard and terminate in a shared greenspace. Rooftop solar panels, bioswales, and rainwater barrels are among the project's sustainable features.

Metropolis continues:
Despite the common theme, the entries encompassed a range of contemporary and traditional architectural styles, says Gillem. For example, a commendation award was given to a design that stacks recycled shipping containers around a courtyard framed by wood trellises, eco-roofs, and pedestrian bridges. The Portland merit award winner showcases "future proofing," in which a starter house—boxy and modern with an ancillary rental unit—evolves into a single family residence, and then, finally, into multi-generational quarters.


Although the jury selected a winner, anyone can go online and vote for the People's Choice Award (until December 28) ::Portland Courtyard Housing via ::Metropolis

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