Daily Necessities

The AIA’s 9 Most Innovative Small Structures Around the World

March 19,2024 by Matthew Bell

This week, the American Institute of Architects announced the nine recipients of its AIA Small Project Awards, now in its 13th year. Divided into two categories based on construction costs (under $150,000, and up to $1.5 million), this year’s winners prove that even with a relatively modest budget, beautiful and inspiring work is well within reach. Honoring restraint, the awards also serve as a counterpoint to the blockbuster developments that typically animate the field. “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,” noted jury chair Marika Snider in a statement. “As architects, we strive to provide clients with more than just buildings, but solutions to improve life—these projects highlight this notion.”

In Iowa, for instance, the Des Moines–based design collaborative Substance Architecture created a $900 smocked porch (completed with a skylight and twin swings) using salvaged wood from a derelict house. A timber-paneled floating sauna, meanwhile, is buoyed in Seattle and boasts a $20,000 aluminum-framed design by goCstudio. And on the other side of the world, in a rural mountainside village in Burundi, architect Louise Braverman devised much-needed medical staff housing that generates all of its own electricity. Here, AD has rounded up all of the winners.

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

Deployable smocked porch in Winterset, Iowa, by Substance Architecture.

Wa_sauna in Seattle, by goCstudio.

Weihnacht Huts in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, by NAD.

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

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

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

Studio Dental in San Francisco, by Montalba Architects.

Village Health Works Staff Housing in Bujumbura, Burundi, by Louise Braverman.

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