In a great article from the December 2008 issue of MET HOME magazine, Karrie Jacobs discusses her trip to Portland, Oregon and her discovery of the city-approved radical experiment in urban planning, called “Skinny Houses”. Here are a few highlights from the article:

Portland has provided permits to housing developers for plans that will improve the quality of single-family homes that are built on narrow lots, i.e. Skinny Houses.  These skinny homes are usually 15-ft across and three stories instead of two, but pack approximately 1,100 sq. ft. of living space into the allotted space.

In 2004,  architect Bryan Higgins, one of the first to build a skinny home, submitted his idea/design in the city’s Living Smart: Big Ideas for Small Lots competition. His design was one of two that was chosen by the city to be built.  In 2006, the city gave him the plan, permit and reduced his permit fees. His home, along with the other winner’s property emerged as a new Portland architectural symbol.  Since 2006, ten of these official skinny houses have been completed, with the aid of the city providing free plans and no red tape for anyone who wanted to build one.

Karrie Jacobs found that this Living Smart program was one of the boldest attempts by an American city to foster the building of smaller, better house.

For more information on Skinny Houses and for an article like this one, go to: http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/stories/2004/08/23/focus3.html

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