The Eye

This Year’s Best Small-Scale Architectural Projects Include a Floating Sauna and a Dentist Office

goCstudio - wa_sauna_04
Wa_sauna by goCstudio, one of the winners of AIA’s Small Project Awards.

Kevin Scott

To prove once again that fantastic small-scale architecture doesn’t stop at tiny houses, the American Institute of Architects announced the winners of its 13th annual Small Project Awards on Thursday.

The awards were established “to recognize small-project practitioners for the high quality of their work and to promote excellence in small-project design,” the AIA said in a press release, striving “to raise public awareness of the value and design excellence that architects bring to projects, no matter the limits of size and scope.”

Including a mobile dental office, a floating sauna, and a teen space at a Pittsburgh library, the winners are split between two categories: relatively modest builds under $150,000 and a second category at no more than a healthy-sounding $1.5 million.

“With construction budgets regularly running into the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s important to emphasize the impact smaller projects can have,” AIA Jury Chairwoman Marika Snider said by way of relativizing the budget caps. “As architects we strive to provide clients with more than just buildings, but solutions to improve life – these projects highlight this notion.”

wa_sauna by goCstudio

goCstudio - wa_sauna_07
The interior of the floating sauna. The sauna functions as a boat that can be moored at a marina or private property and taken out on the open water as needed. The interior space is heated by a simple efficient wood-burning stove.

Kevin Scott

Studio Dental, San Francisco, by Montalba Architects, Inc.

Interior and exteriors of Studio Dental, a mobile dental office in San Francisco. The 26-foot-long trailer as a 230-square-foot interior that includles a waiting area, sterilization room, and two patient stations.

Mitch Tobias

Deployable Smocked Porch, Winterset, Iowa, by Substance Architecture

Deployable Smocked Porch_Photo Paul Crosby_03
This “deployable” porch was designed and constructed adjacent to the courthouse square in Winterset as a pro bono effort to support the Iowa Preservation Alliance. Using wood salvaged from a demolished home, the budget for the project was $900.

Paul Crosby

St. Pius Chapel and Prayer Garden, New Orleans by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple

01_St. Pius Chapel_Will Crocker
The small, simple chapel was designed as a sanctuary to complement the modernist character of the adjacent church (circa 1963).

Will Crocker

Weihnacht Huts, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, by NAD

Weihnacht Huts_1163
Craft exhibit huts for an authentic German Weihnachtsmarkt (open-air Christmas market) feature a steeply-sloped polycarbonate roof designed for snowfall and a ridge line borrowed from traditional Moravian vernacular. With a limited budget for materials ($286 per unit), the deck, walls, and roof panels are constructed as single units to be taken apart, transported, and stored flat when not in use.

Nik Nikolov

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Studio Hive, Pittsburgh, by GBBN Architects

GBBN-1, Teen Section 'Hive', Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh East Liberty Branch: March 2015
The Studio Hive is part of the Teen Zone in the East Liberty Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Made of wood and sound-absorbent industrial felt, its creation has contributed to a 350 percent increase in attendance at the library’s teen programs and events.  

Ed Massery

Girl Scouts Camp Prairie Schooner, Kansas City, Missouri, by El Dorado Inc.

el dorado_Camp Prairie Schooner_photo by Mike Sinclair_02
The Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri hired the architect to design a new trail center that functions as a troop bunkhouse, a modern restroom, and a shower facility.

Mike Sinclair

Linear Cabin, Alma Lake, Wisconsin, by Johnsen Schmaling Architects

Linear Cabin-02_Johnsen Schmaling Architects
The Linear Cabin is a small family retreat in a small clearing in Wisconsin’s North Woods consisting of three identically sized, nearly opaque boxes tied together with a continuous thin roof plane. The cabin is wrapped in blackened cedar.

Johnsen Schmaling Architects

Village Health Works Staff Housing, Bujumbura, Burundi, by Louise Braverman, Architect

Louise Braverman Architect-2016 Small Projects Award_VHW Staff Housing_7_Iwan Baan
This 18-bed staff dorm was built into the mountainside of an off-the-grid rural village in Burundi to maximize temperature control. Porches create three-sided natural ventilation within the bedrooms.  

Iwan Baan