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03 May 2017

Inside Look: How the 2017 Marvin Architects Challenge Winners Put Their Stamp on the Latest Design Trends

A new and diverse group of Marvin Architects Challenge-winning projects offer a personal take on the home and design trends the industry is buzzing about.

We recently announced the winners of this year’s Marvin Architects Challenge design competition, a group of projects that differ greatly in terms of design style and aesthetics, but that have one very obvious thing in common—they provide a fresh perspective on some of the most popular design trends in the industry today. From the breathtaking Shorefront Camp in Maine to a smartly-planned mini guest house in Minnesota, we break down how this year’s award-winning projects put a spin on eight hot trends.

1. White is the New [Insert any Color Here]. Plain is making a comeback as white becomes the new paint color du jour. Months after Labor Day, white walls, white accessories and white linen still make for a relaxing palate that allows architectural or design details to stand out. White mixed with more white in a compact Minneapolis, MN guest house by Christopher Strom Architects allows the small space to feel open and airy. For architect Elizabeth Herrmann and her Knoll House project, white walls and bookshelves help reflect natural sunlight and create a cohesive feel from room to room.

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2. Creativity with Contrast. While white walls may be enjoying their time in the spotlight, a pop of bold color can add a peek of personality and a unique look to any space. In efficient living of just 380 square feet, sky-blue kitchen cabinets have an attitude that belies the space’s small size. Our “Best in Show” winner, Shorefront Camp by WMH Architects uses just a hint of bold red and colorful artwork for an eye-catching contrast to the muted wall colors and natural wood. In Herrmann’s Knoll House, a pop of color was best used in the outdoor living space, where a pair of cherry-red Adirondack chairs offer what are arguably the best seats in the house.

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3. Naturally Renewable, Warmer Surfaces. Technology is pervasive, in homes now more than ever. Many homeowners are longing for more tactile surfaces—warm materials that bring a little nature into indoor spaces. In Cupertino, California, the McClellan Ranch Preserve Environmental Education Center by Siegel & Strain Architects sits on the site of a ranch dating back to the 1870s, now an 18-acre park that hosts the city’s environmental education programs. Our “Best in Commercial” winner, the center is designed to work in concert with the historic buildings and the rich nature surrounding the building. Warm wood finishes on the interior windows paired with exposed wood beams and timber in the outdoor deck area reflect the ranch-style aesthetic and the surrounding forest. Back at the awe-inspiring Shorefront Camp, natural wood graces nearly every surface—from walls, to stair treads, to ceilings—resulting in an even more instinctual connection with the great outdoors, viewable from nearly every window-filled room.

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4. Next-Level Green. Being “green” is so much more than using Pantone’s Color of the Year, Greenery. The McClellan Ranch Preserve Environmental Education Center explores the true meaning of eco-friendly with its commitment to green practices. The building was designed to perform well when “unplugged” from building systems, to maximize the use of daylighting, and use natural ventilation and passive heating and cooling. A roof-mounted photovoltaic system provides most of the center’s energy, rainwater is captured on the roof and kept on site, and the building is oriented and shaded to avoid heat during the hottest times of day. And, even the birds who live adjacent to the center were taken into consideration. The architect was assisted by Marvin’s team to specify patterned (fritted) bird-safe glass to prevent accidental crashes and unwanted harm.

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5. Farmhouse Style. With HGTV giants Chip and Joanna Gaines leading the way with their shiplap-showcasing interiors, farmhouse style has charged its way into today’s design vernacular. According to Pinterest, searches for farmhouse-style interiors are up 40 percent on the platform since last year, so it was no surprise to see a beautiful interpretation of farmhouse style in Little Camp by Albert, Righter, Tittmann Architects. This new construction home was built on the site of an old and well-loved “camp” that the owners had rented and loved for years. The new build captures the spirit of the old camp—geared towards informal summer living and a nostalgic feeling that begins with a beautiful wrap-around porch and extends to the white wood kitchen cabinets, wood-planked walls and the prairie view through double hung Marvin windows.

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6. The Hunt for Hygge. This newly-discovered but long-practiced Scandinavian way of life has us begging for more cozy nights around the fireplace and more charming spaces to gather with friends and family. Settled into a wooded site, Knoll House pairs a wood-burning stove, unbeatable views and soft textiles to create the ultimate relaxation vibe—especially for a canine companion who appreciates the “hyggelig” life just as much as a homeowner might. Outdoors, Knoll House features a rustic picnic table and Sunflowers in bloom for the perfect, outdoor family meal. In a more rustic, farmhouse interpretation of hygge charm, Little Camp offers the perfect nook to curl up with a good book.

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7. More Usable Square Footage, Indoors and Out. Regardless of traditional vs. modern style, open concepts with fewer hallways and small rooms afford more usable space. An abundance of glass and large doors help make walls disappear, bringing the outdoors in. Especially as trends move toward more efficient indoor square footage, a home opening directly onto an outdoor space like a patio or deck can mean a considerable increase in usable living space. If there is any one trend that all of our 2017 Architects Challenge winners embody, it’s a clear connection to the outdoors through expansive glass and oversized scenic doors. Whether it’s a walk-out patio in Compact Living, a wall full of casement windows in Shorefront Camp or easy access to a traditional farmhouse porch in Little Camp, being able to appreciate the outdoors from any vantage point redefines living large.

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8. A Return to Eras Gone By. As old continues to blend with new, and famous architectural styles and icons rejoin modern aesthetics, preserving the historic charm and protecting the stories behind landmark buildings is more important than ever. Originally constructed in 1928, Westborough Town Hall by Jacunski Humes Architects served as a government center for the Central Massachusetts Community, and was a beautiful reminder of times gone by. When the building fell into disrepair and disuse, rather than demolishing this classical relic of a past era, the building was meticulously restored to the architectural marvel it once was, allowing the character of this classical downtown square to live on.

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