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Wenzlau Architects earns praise for cottages project

By RICHARD D. OXLEY
Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer
November 17, 2012 · Updated 10:44 AM
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The Chico Beach Cottages are in Silverdale, Wa. Wenzlau Architects won Grand Award at the 32nd Annual Builders’ Choice Design and Planning Awards for their work on them. / Photo courtesy of Charlie Wenzlau

Island architect Charlie Wenzlau scored a big win for his architectural firm this week.

Wenzlau Architects along with the Cottage Company received a Grand Award at the 32nd Annual Builders’ Choice Design and Planning Awards.

“The thing that was really exciting for us is that we got the top award,” Wenzlau said. “It was the only award, given for an innovative single family neighborhood.”

“Our interest in the cottage communities is to provide an alternative to the typical large lot single family district,” he added.

The award is presented by Builder Magazine.

“Builder’s Choice is the housing industry’s oldest and most prestigious national design awards program in the country,” said Denise Dersin, Builder’s editor-in-chief.

More than 350 entries were submitted from across the nation, but only 36 earned kudos from the publication. Of that 36, only 12 Grand Awards were bestowed.

“The awards are given out for a broad range of housing innovations; they encompass single family homes to higher density multi-family housing,” Wenzlau said.

Wenzlau won the honor for his work with the Chico Beach development in Silverdale as the best single family community. Wenzlau and the Cottage Company began on the Chico Beach Cottages nearly two years ago, and they are already sold out.

The cottages utilize a unique community design that places the cars and parking at one end of the development, away from the homes.

“The cottage housing is modeled on the bungalow courts that you would find in older neighborhoods, that first were developed around streetcar lines,” Wenzlau said. “It’s a number of small detached homes centered around a common garden space.”

The cottages come in at approximately 1,600 to 1,700 square feet. The buildings are Energy Star certified.

“One of the things that the award recognizes is how in cottage homes you can live in a smaller, more sustainable fashion by using less land and less energy,” Wenzlau said.

The Chico Beach Cottages project wasn’t the first time Wenzlau teamed up with the Cottage Company.

Islanders may know their previous collaboration, the Ericksen Cottages in Winslow, that were constructed 10 years ago.

“After this recession and the slowdown in the economy, we are seeing a resurgence in home construction, and we are seeing more interest in cottage housing as opposed to moving into a high density condo,” Wenzlau said.

“I think we will see this become a more prevalent housing choice in the future,” he said.

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