"Seamless Housing" Nets Top Prize for Cal Poly Pomona Architecture Student

"Seamless Housing" Nets Top Prize for Cal Poly Pomona Architecture Student
Architecture student Sergio Marquez was one of three co-1st place winners for the “Small Lots, Smart Designs” competition in April.
Marquez's design features minimalism and cost-effective pre-fab materials.

“Small Lots, Smart Designs,” a design competition for professional and student architects, named Cal Poly Pomona architecture student Sergio Marquez as one of its co-1st place honorees. Challenged to meet the current needs of the Los Angeles housing market, architects were asked to design affordable, comfortable community-oriented living spaces to re-develop thousands of vacant and underutilized lots throughout the city.

“Sergio is an outstanding designer who responds excellently to challenges and understands that each task needs to be examined and questioned,” says assistant professor of architecture and faculty advisor Axel Prichard-Schmitzberger. “His design delivered smart compactedness and created a clear response to not only the given lot but also to multiple urban locations.”

Marquez's design, “Seamless Housing,” was completed in two weeks, while other student projects from schools like USC were the focus of semester-long study. The judges were so impressed with the innovative professionalism of the student entries that they could not select an overall winner but awarded co-1st prize to Marquez and two student teams from USC.

Prichard-Schmitzberger is justifiably proud of Marquez's solo design accomplishment, and he notes that it reflects a new trend in urban design.

“Urban environments are in constant flux, and rigid single-minded solutions cannot be applied to them,” says Prichard-Schmitzberger. “Sergio's project and its success prove that there is a potential shift in how we want to see architecture adapt and perform in the real world.”

Sponsored by the city's housing department and Enterprise Community Partners Inc., a non-profit company, architects were given a specific address with specific square footage and specific dimensions. Designs needed to be compatible with surrounding areas, accessible to a range of lifestyle choices, cost less than $125 per square foot to build, and provide opportunities for community interaction. And, perhaps most important in these days of rising fuel costs, designs must minimize energy use through maximizing the effects of natural light and ventilation.

“'Small Lots, Smart Designs' coincides with record-breaking area home prices and a renewedinterest in creative alternatives to the traditional suburban single-family home,” says Bill Jones, who runs Enterprise Community Partners' affordable homeownership program in Los Angeles. “It has the potential to turn many renters into homeowners through fresh, innovative, and cost-effective means in the coming years.”