Cradle to Cradle Home

Creating contemporary standards for affordable housing that respects the rights of future generations.


The First International Cradle to Cradle Housing Design and Construction Competition, launched last month at EnvironDesign®8, offers professionals in the design and construction industries, "the opportunity to strive together to achieve excellence in building the highest quality affordable and market rate housing designs for a local community," according to competition planners. Designs are to be developed around the principles and framework described in Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough, FAIA and Michael Braungart.

The first in a series of nationwide and international implementation markets will be held in Roanoke, VA, located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Considered a cultural center of the Appalachian Region of the United States, Roanoke is a city whose first golden age occurred during the development of the American railroad. Faced with the challenge of rebuilding its neighborhoods with high quality, affordable and market rate housing designs and construction processes, Roanoke wants to do so in a way that
will respect the rights of future generations to pursue their goals. As such, city planners say they look forward to a second golden age realized, in part, through the competition and the accompanying "community building" it believes will result.

The two-part competition will allow students and professionals to compete with peers and offer solutions to the problem of designing buildable and sustainable housing. Winning design teams, representing accredited architecture programs from around the world, will be offered paid internships and room and board to participate in the process of building their designs with the assistance of the local design and construction community. Hosted by local businesses and other organizations and institutions, the selected design teams will reside in Roanoke for three months during the summer of 2005.

Professional designers will submit their solutions to be juried independently from
the student work. Selected entries from the international architecture community will
be constructed by the local construction community during 2005. Roanoke anticipates
building as many as 30 of the selected entries.

It is intended that the designs will serve to increase awareness of the availability and limitations of the existing environmentally intelligent technologies and strategies for building green, while introducing and implementing new concepts for consideration and realization. The selected designs will provide solutions to the issues of context particularly as they relate to existing historic homes and neighborhoods. Several diverse and largely prototypical sites in a variety of neighborhoods have been identified within the City of Roanoke; each will pose distinct challenges and design opportunities.

Designs will be reviewed by an internationally acclaimed jury that will include William McDonough, Randall Stout, FAIA, Sarah Susanka, Daniel Libeskind and Alexander Garvin. Building materials will be provided through the support of national corporate sponsors. Sponsors will simultaneously be encouraged to develop new products and manufacturing processes that are safe, affordable and environmentally sustainable, according to the Cradle to Cradle framework.

An increasing number of local contractors and development groups have already expressed an interest in building houses generated from this process. Based on the model of the traditional American Barn Raising, the community will partner with guests and neighbors to bring a transformation to the urban landscape and housing stock within the City of Roanoke and enhance the general discourse on the strategies for design and construction.

In addition to addressing issues related to excellence in housing design and sustainability, a renewed community spirit will be a natural and anticipated outgrowth of this effort. Partnerships between and among community groups, businesses, residents, designers,
contractors, environmentalists, community service providers and government officials will yield the greatly increased sense of community.

Work that begins in Roanoke will be refined and adapted for implementation for other markets in an effort to address issues considered to be specific to each of these future project locations. Anticipating that cities throughout the country and, ultimately, around the world will understand the value of this effort and look to host the event in subsequent years, planners consider the project in Roanoke to be the first in a series of such efforts.

The Cradle to Cradle Home competition is presented by the Roanoke Regional Housing Network. For more information, visit