The Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA)--a non-profit international organization that serves to expand and improve the use of Tilt-Up as the preferred construction method--has announced the winners of "TCA/PCA Fire Storm Housing 2008," an international design competition.

Students in the field of architecture, currently in graduate or undergraduate programs, were invited to present conceptual designs for firestorm-resistant housing located in the Santa Ana region of California using site-cast concrete Tilt-Up panels for their shell components.

The competition sought to challenge entrants to creatively solve the problem of producing a custom, single-family residence for a model home. Current rebuilding efforts in this area of the country demonstrate that most homes will be reconstructed with the same combustible materials and little, if any, systems to limit or prevent future damage from firestorms. Recognizing this fact, entrants were encouraged to present prominent, architecturally-significant design solutions for housing units that could be placed in new rebuild communities that provide measurable improvements to long-term durability.

"Firestorms destroy thousands of homes each year, so it is critically important that the design and construction industry develop solutions to this devastating problem," said Jim Baty, Technical Director of TCA. "These students developed creative strategies utilizing the Tilt-Up method that could provide a new market for the Tilt-Up industry in areas where firestorms are prevalent."

Entries were received from several colleges and universities including Alfred State College, University of Illinois and New York Institute of Technology. Alfred State students earned first and third place along with four honorable mention distinctions.

All entries were judged by a three person panel including Jim Baty, Technical Director of TCA; Ed Sauter, Executive Director of TCA; and Alan Wilson, a registered architect and vice president at The Haskell Company. The following criteria were used to evaluate the submittals:

  • Creative use of the design concept in overall solution,
  • Application of the Tilt-Up construction method, and
  • Appropriateness of response in the context.

The first place winners were John Velo and Jamie Woods from Alfred State College. Their design was inspired by minimalism, but is driven by the Hispanic roots of the region. The combination of parallel facing Tilt-Up concrete walls with stucco siding and several panes of fire-resistant windows creates the perception of a modern home without the cold, sterile impression of concrete. The team recognized that Tilt-Up concrete can resist a fire for approximately four hours for a typical 6.5-inch think wall. By cutting their structure into smaller sections using a breezeway and Tilt-Up concrete walls, the team created a barrier to prevent spreading flames. The home is designed around a pool to catch a cool breeze through the hot days in Southern California and as a way to slow down any fires that spread to the area. Further, this design element allows for a means of escape from the second-story in the event of a fire.