ross chapin architects, langley, wash.

This modest “pocket” development shows production housing in a whole new light. It marries “plan and design in a good way,” said one judge. “It's not just about the appearance of architecture—it's about culture.”

The “culture” this project's design and development team tries to foster is a communal one, where individuals can get to know their neighbors, says Ross Chapin, AIA. To that end, Chapin organized the 16 houses around two connected courtyards and positioned parking on the outskirts to promote interaction among neighbors. The culture also prizes sustainability, so in addition to the high-density siting, each zero-lot-line house has a landscape easement for a bioswale to channel storm water to a retention tank. To mitigate their thrifty size, the cottages make use of open, efficient floor plans and multifunctional rooms.

The houses achieved a four-star rating (out of a possible five) in the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties' Built Green program. It's all about establishing models of sustainability for the mainstream, Chapin says.

principal in charge: Ross Chapin, AIA, Ross Chapin Architects
project manager: Karen DeLucas, Assoc. AIA, Ross Chapin Architects
land planner: Mick Matheson, Triad Associates, Kirkland
developer: Jim Soules, The Cottage Co., Seattle
general contractor: Jay Kracht, The Cottage Co.
landscape architect: Linda Pruitt, The Cottage Co.
structural engineers: Nic Rossouw and Larry Cimino, Swenson Say Fagét, Seattle
project size: 700 square feet to 1,500 square feet per unit
site size: 2.25 acres
construction cost: $169 per square foot
sales price: $375,000 to $610,000 per unit
units in project: 16
photography: Ross Chapin Architects