Rethinking Urban Density: 10 Backyard Cottages

Rethinking Urban Density: 10 Backyard Cottages

Lauren Zerbey
Apr 11, 2011

In many cities, growing populations are putting a stress on existing housing options. Instead of building new condos and apartments, one creative solution is to increase the density of existing single-family neighborhoods by allowing "backyard cottages." These small dwelling units can be rented out for supplemental income or serve as a living space for extended family. (Some homeowners are even deciding to downsize to the cottage and rent out the primary home!) Cities like Seattle have recently changed their zoning code to allow these detached accessory dwelling units (nicknamed "DADU's") and local architects and homeowners have been eager to explore the possibilities. See 10 examples from Seattle and beyond after the jump!

In addition to the their small size and urban settings, many of these examples also boast sustainable features like rainwater catchment, super insulation and the use of simple and durable materials.

Top Row:

1 This modern red box in the Central District of Seattle was one of the first backyard cottages to make big waves. Built in the backyard of a rental property, this creative solution proved to be an affordable housing option in an otherwise expensive city (via Dwell).
2 A modern and bright 450 square foot, 2-story loft by Regeneration Design is an extension of an existing 1920's garage in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle.
3 A prototype by Seattle architecture firm Bjarko Serra, this modern home with a butterfly roof is designed with many sustainable features.
4 A pre-fab option by Michigan architect Michael Fitzhugh, this cottage is constructed of structural insulated panels (SIPs) for a super efficient building envelope.
5 The L2Q studio by Seattle architect Peter Cohan has a cantilevered upper story, creating a carport below and is designed to be constructed at less than $125/SF.

Bottom Row:

6 The Backyard House from SHED, a Seattle-based architecture firm, is small in size but without the cottage aesthetic.
7 The Readymade backyard cottage is a great example of how modular units can be arranged to create usable outdoor living spaces (via Sunset Magazine).
8 Designed as a retirement home for a couple who decided to rent out their primary residence, this home is designed to compliment the character of the existing home and will feature a rainwater catchment system (via CAST architecture).
9 The Microhouse is an "eco-cottage" designed with affordability in mind. (Plans are also available for purchase.)
10 Designed by San Francisco-based architect Christi Azevedo, an old 1908 carriage house was renovated into a stunning residence (via Dwell).

(Images: as linked)

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