Toronto firm wins top prize for hurricane resilient house

Toronto-based Sustainable.TO Architecture + Building has taken the top prize in an international competition to design sustainable housing for disaster recovery zones. “Resilient House for New York” was designed specifically for the New York region ravaged by Superstorm Sandy.  The competition, “Designing Recovery”, which solicited designs for three disaster zones (New York; New Orleans; Joplin, Mo), was launched by the American Institute of Architects in collaboration with Architecture for Humanity, Dow Building Solutions, Make It Right, and St. Bernard Project.

“We’re very proud and grateful for this acknowledgment,” said Paul Dowsett, principal and co-founder of the firm. “We’ve designed a house that is sustainable, affordable, comfortable and appealing — which, when built, will help a community solve a major issue.”

This is the third significant award that Sustainable.TO has received in as many years for passive house design. In 2011, the firm won first prize for its “Low Cost, Low Energy House” for the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. In 2012, it was recognized by CMHC for its design of the “Willowdale Passive Solar House.”

Sustainable.TO’s “Resilient House for New York” orients living spaces towards the sun, and minimizes interior partitions. Structurally insulated panels allow for a tightly sealed and highly insulated building enclosure. It is designed to resist storm surges with a flood-proof foundation and to rely solely on the sun and wind for passive heating and ventilation. In the event of power loss — a common problem in post-disaster regions — the house would remain ‘liveable’ even without operating utilities. By using traditional construction methods and equipment, “Resilient House” could be built for less than $50,000 in material cost.

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