It may not have the name recognition of Moscow or St. Petersburg, but Cherepovets is an equally vital cog in northwest Russia's industrial machine. Perched on the banks of the Rybinsk Reservoir, Cherepovets is home to Severstal, one of the country's largest steel producers and employer of many of the city's 314,000 residents.

Providing suitable shelter for those workers was the challenge of Living Steel's third International Architecture Competition for Sustainable Housing, which aims to advance the green use of steel. Teams from firms in 52 countries answered the call, and 12 were selected to design schemes for a single-family detached housing development for up to 500 families on 173 tree-lined acres. Each design had to be energy-efficient, yet capable of withstanding extreme regional temperatures (ranging from 93 degrees Fahrenheit to 56 below zero), and also be affordable to build and buy. Minimum requirements included two bedrooms, one bath, and a garage—within a maximum footprint of 1,615 square feet.

Australian architect Glenn Murcutt, Hon. FAIA, led the six-member jury for the competition, held June 26–29 in Helsinki, Finland. A 13-member team from Peter Stutchbury Architecture, in suburban Sydney, Australia, developed the winning scheme, which the judges favored by a 5 to 1 margin. (At press time, Living Steel program director Scott Chubbs issued an explanation of its decision to make finalists known to the jury. His letter is at www.livingsteel.org.) The firm's plans “represent a starting point,” says associate Richard Smith, that will evolve as “cultural, community, and individual factors” emerge during the project's due diligence. In the months ahead, Stutchbury will collaborate with Severstal and a local architect to refine its design and build a prototype by late 2009. Once developed, the houses should cost roughly $120,000 each.

In a competition first, the jury singled out two other teams for “honorable mention”: Toronto-based RVTR and Bligh Voller Nield of Australia. A team of six architects from six competing firms also was awarded a prize following a design charrette to develop the community's master plan. For more on the honored designs, visit the Living Steel Web site and view the slideshows on this page.