UB faculty members’ design up for 2018 AZ Azure Award

Micro dwelling.

"Big Space, Little Space" by Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis is up for an international design award and the public can help them win. Cast your vote today for the 2018 AZ Azure Awards.


Published April 25, 2018

UB architecture faculty members Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis are in the running for a 2018 AZ Award from AZURE magazine for a micro dwelling they designed in Buffalo, and the public can help them win.

“Big space, Little space” is a live-work space converted from a 100-year-old masonry garage tucked in a historic residential neighborhood in Buffalo. Shortlisted from a pool of 997 entries from 46 countries, the project is among four finalists in the Architecture - Residential Single Family category. The international competition includes both a juried and People’s Choice award. Public voting runs through May 4. 

The backyard dwelling serves as both a residence and workshop for the owners. The highly flexible structure features two “Big spaces” — a generous garden and workshop/living area — and a “Little space” that bridges the two. The roof, designed as a “fifth facade,” is an interface to the outdoors, featuring 10 operable skylights and a roof deck.

Indeed, Davidson and Rafailidis brought design innovation to the challenge of spatial utility at every turn.

The site’s seasonally responsive and flexible design essentially converts a 464-square-foot structure into more than 5,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor living space. Inhabitants can retreat into the warm insulated “Little space” in the harsh winters, and expand into the “Big spaces” — the garden, workshop and roof deck — in the warm seasons.

“There is no stationary plan. The spaces are rather offerings for temporary and informal uses,” says Rafailidis, associate professor of architecture. 

Adds Davidson, visiting assistant professor of architecture: “Our objective was to create spaces that are useful for everything and where the meaning and usefulness of each space renegotiates with each new user.”

Two-thirds of the project budget was invested in the smaller space, providing for fully insulated perimeter walls, radiant heat and operable skylights for natural light and ventilation. The “Big space” workshop, in contrast, has untouched and uninsulated walls, and is heated with an existing ceiling heater in the garage. Additional skylights and a roof hatch accessible by stair add light and ventilation. The garden is visually and spatially integrated with the structure through a widened door opening and a 23-foot-wide retractable awning for added privacy.

The 2018 AZ Awards winners and People’s Choice picks will be announced at a gala presentation at Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works on June 22.


Wow! I grew up in a roughly 800-square-foot house. Who knew that my immigrant parents were that far ahead on the architectural curve!


Edward M Bednarczyk