City selects two housing designs to address city’s affordability crisis

Rendering of the Slim House. Image courtesy Salt Lake City staff.

With a growing affordable housing crisis looming, Salt Lake City officials have solicited creative, affordable and energy efficient single-family housing solutions through the Home Innovation Competition.  On Monday officials announced the two winning designs, the Slim House and N3 homes, by architectural firm AJR and local developer Redfish Builders respectively.

The two winning designs were selected among six submissions.  The competition was sponsored by Salt Lake City’s Housing Innovation Lab and is in collaboration with the draft Growing SLC Housing Plan, which is currently for the City Council for discussion.

“To address our affordable housing crisis in Salt Lake City, we must begin thinking innovatively and acting with clear resolve,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski in a statement. “Innovation will allow us to bring new housing types to neighborhoods across Salt Lake City while respecting the size and character of our communities. This is what the Innovation Lab is all about.”

According to a statement, city officials were looking for designs that encouraged energy efficiency, sustainability, low maintenance costs and affordability.  Officials selected the two winning designs that they felt were most compatible with Salt Lake City’s neighborhoods and could be adaptable in a wide variety of contexts within throughout the city.

The Slim House is one of the several energy-efficient homes designed by AJR’s Jörg Rügemer.  Rügemer, a professor of architecture at the University of Utah, designed the under-construction, Field of Dreams eco-community.  The eco-community in Kearns, a suburb of Salt Lake, includes 20 passive single-family homes that are being built to cost no more than $150,000 with an average energy cost of $1.50 per day.  The homes will be available through Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity.  Like the Field of Dreams homes, the Slim House is a passive house designed to provide a high-quality of living within an optimized footprint on a narrow lot that uses what is immediately available from the location’s environment as the primary energy source, greatly reducing energy consumption and costs.

The city has entered a design contract with AJR to bring the design of the Slim House to reality on a city-owned lot with groundbreaking anticipated sometime next year.

The second winning design, the N3, is also by a local firm, Redfish Builders, that has experience in developing energy-efficient homes.  Redfish is behind the recently completed, Living Zenith residential community, a five-unit net zero development on 1100 South block of 400 East in the Liberty Wells neighborhood.  As with the Living Zenith homes, the N3 was designed to provide a net zero model that similarly focuses on sustainability and minimizing energy costs. Net zero homes produce as much energy as they use.  According to a statement, the design team’s goal was a high-quality, minimalist aesthetic that is low maintenance and limits utility costs.

The winning designs will be on display at the City and County Building, 3rd floor on November 21, 2017, between 5-7pm. Staff from the Housing and Neighborhood Development team will be available to discuss the Housing Innovation Lab as well as draft Growing SLC Housing Plan.

Rendering of two twin homes in the Field of Dreams Eco Community by Habitat for Humanity.
Archived photo of the first of five homes in the Living Zenith development. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at