The Grow Home wins World Habitat Award
The Grow Home, an affordable townhouse design first constructed in 1990, has received the prestigious World Habitat Award. McGill School of Architecture professor and co-designer Avi Friedman will attend the ceremony in China.
Professor Avi Friedman goes to China to accept his prize
The Grow Home, an affordable townhouse constructed as a demonstration unit on the downtown campus of McGill University in Montreal in 1990 and subsequently adopted with great enthusiasm by the homebuilding industry, has been recognized with the prestigious World Habitat Award. McGill School of Architecture professor Avi Friedman will be flown to Dalian, China to accept the award. He leaves Montreal at the end of September, and the ceremony takes place in China on World Habitat Day, October 4.
"I am thrilled," says Professor Friedman. "It is an honour to be recognized this way."
The Grow Home, well known to Montrealers, is a two-storey unit with an optional basement, 4.3 metres to 6.1 metres (14 to 20 feet) wide, that can be constructed for $40,000 CDN ($27,000 US). The unit was co-designed by Witold Rybczynski, now teaching in the United States, and Avi Friedman for the McGill School of Architecture. To date, approximately 10,000 Grow Home units have been built throughout North America, providing affordable homes to many first-time homebuying families. Substantial cost savings are obtained as a result of the narrow dimensions of the home as well as by leaving one of the floors unpartitioned for further adaptation when the need arises.
The World Habitat Awards were initiated in 1985 as part of the contribution of the Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) to the United Nations International Year of Shelter for the Homeless in 1987. They are meant to identify innovative and successful human settlement projects throughout the world which could be replicated elsewhere. The BSHF is an independent research body based in Leicestershire (UK) and received its financial endowment from a building organization set up by a group of homeless and penniless ex-servicemen just after World War II. The award is handed out on World Habitat Day every autumn in different sites around the globe. This year the ceremony takes place in Dalian, China, and Professor Friedman will accept the award from the Chinese Minister of Construction.
"We are delighted that a concept developed in a university setting has had such a tremendous impact on peoples lives," says Professor Friedman, who is also director of the McGill Affordable Homes Program. His comment is echoed by David Covo, head of the McGill School of Architecture. "Our teaching and research activities provide the context for such innovative projects as The Grow Home, and the international recognition associated with the World Habitat Award will add lustre to our reputation, building even more international links," notes Covo.
The award provides $24,000 Canadian and carries the condition that three-quarters of the money be spent on promoting the winning idea.