Images Credit Elemental
The INDEX Design prize splits $ 800,000 among five categories: Body, Home, Work, Play and Community. The Home category has been given to the ELEMENTAL Monterrey, a clever social housing project in Mexico. The units are what Avi Friedman called Grow Homes- one builds the hard and expensive stuff like kitchens and bathrooms and the absolute minimum of living space, but leave room for the occupants to build out the rest as their needs and their wallets expand. That's what those gaps between the units are for.
The judges write:
Providing the basic utilities and infrastructure allows the user to customize non-technical aspects of the home, which provides a sense of ownership and the possibility of expansion and flexibility - allowing your home to grow with your needs and resources. Finally, the fact that the design is replicable to other major cities, while at the same time being an example of great architecture with an interesting form, is something very unique.
There is a lot more surface area in this design, so I am not certain that it could be replicated economically in parts of the world where walls need insulation. But it is a very clever way of dealing with change. More at INDEX and ELEMENTAL's website.
Bonnie notes that last year it won a big prize too: Brit Insurance Design Awards Pick the Winners
More on INDEX design awards:
Hövding Airbag Helmet Wins World's Largest Design Prize