graduate studio in architecture, lawrence, kan.

Both of-the-moment and deferential to its humble surroundings, this house was designed and built by architecture students at the University of Kansas in a matter of five months. Its flat roofs and simple boxes were inspired by other homes in the neighborhood--"a patchwork area," says their professor, architect Dan Rockhill.

Focusing on accessibility and sustainability, the students designed a house, breezeway/ramp, and garage connected by a steel tube system. The roof's aluminum sheet shingles are industrial waste, and floors are bamboo and recycled rubber tires. Baths read as translucent boxes--proof that even on a tight budget, innovative design can transform the quality of living in a space. The boxes are framed in steel and clad in a double layer of Lexan, allowing light to penetrate. Between the layers, mechanical elements appear as ghosted shadows.

With its bright red exterior and open, light-filled rooms, the house brings much-needed energy and creativity to a run-down neighborhood. "The interiors are fabulous, beautifully finished, and sustainable," said the jury. It recognized this unique student project, originally entered in the affordable housing category, with a "special judges' award."

general contractor: Studio 804, Lawrence, Kan.
project size: 1,300 square feet
site size: 0.13 acre
construction cost: $55 per square foot
rental price: $350 per month
photographer: Dan Rockhill