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Award-winning, child-friendly urban housing with ARCHICAD

Boston, March 5, 2008 - Architect Keith Rivera recently won a design competition for creating an ideal urban housing environment for families with children in the City of Portland, Oregon.  

Portland's Courtyard Housing Design Competition is part of the city's quest to retain families with children in its neighborhoods in the face of increasingly unaffordable housing. Participants submitted designs demonstrating how courtyard housing can provide a quality living environment at densities higher than conventional detached housing.

Architects were challenged to design courtyards that can serve as useable outdoor space while also providing environmental sustainability benefits, acting as a setting for community interaction while also respecting privacy needs, or serving as a pedestrian-oriented space while also accommodating cars. They were also challenged to design courtyard housing that avoids a purely inward focus and contributes to Portland's tradition of street-oriented urbanism. The competition attracted more than 250 submittals from around the world.

Rivera's winning submission, designed with Graphisoft's ARCHICAD, achieved a high density of 26 dwellings per acre with individual two-story homes, while still providing traditional single-family amenities such as private yards and garages. Rivera's plan proposed six design principles:

  1. 'Fee simple' ownership
  2. Neighborhood compatibility
  3. Open space hierarchy
  4. Security and privacy
  5. Affordability by design
  6. Sustainability

Rivera said that working with an ARCHICAD BIM model was critical to his winning success due to the large number of iterations he had to make in a short timeframe. "BIM makes the design process efficient, especially when it comes to making rapid changes and refinements," he said. "Placement and accuracy were also critical benefits of ARCHICAD. Because of the competition's tight urban infill requirements, the BIM model enabled me to make efficient use of every square inch of the tight space."

The City of Portland intends to follow the competition with a design-build program to provide an opportunity for implementing Rivera's design.