Laneway House Design Competition

City Council approved a laneway house design competition that will commence later this year to generate high-quality, pre-reviewed laneway house building plans for Nelson homeowners. The City anticipates that pre-reviewed designs will be most popular amongst those who would otherwise design their own laneway house without hiring a professional or seek to purchase stock plans online. The objective is to provide easy access to high-quality designs and code-compliant plans that strike the right balance between affordable construction and ecologically-sound design. They will be plans designed for Nelson, offering exceptional value-for-money for homeowners and making it easier for them to build a laneway house on their property. The contest evaluation criteria emphasise adaptability to various lots and topographies.

The competition will consist of two rounds. The first round will consist of a call for prototypes. The second round will be an invite-only competition of up to five participants to produce design plans, selected from the top entries from the first round. Three designs will be selected and cash prizes for the top three will be awarded. A “people’s choice” vote will also be held to involve all residents. Designers will receive a royalty of $1,000 each time the plan is purchased by a homeowner. The tentative timeline would see these plans available as early as February or March 2020.

In January 2018, the majority of the 270 respondents to the City’s survey on laneway housing were in favour of a pre-approved design competition and a quarter of them were interested in potentially purchasing a design.

Competitions give the community an opportunity to celebrate good design, are inexpensive to run, generate new ideas, can recruit both professionals and emerging talent (such as university teams), and can serve as a platform to promote laneway housing and local design talent. The program also incentivises laneway houses achieving Step 3 of the new BC Step Code for energy efficiency. Step 3 represents 20% greater efficiency than conventional building techniques.


More information will be posted here in the coming months. In the meantime, you can also read the April 8th, 2019 Council report and tentative contest rules, submission requirements, and timeline.

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