The 21st Avenue Lofts feature common materials used in uncommon ways. The result is a $105-per-square-foot project that is an alternative to run-of-the-mill "sheetrock and brown carpet" affordable housing, the developer says.

Organized around a courtyard complex, the seven-unit project has two buildings containing four townhomes and a three-building grouping that has a courtyard unit and two carriage houses over garages. The 1,400- to 1,785-square-foot units are fairly compact, architect Scott Nelson says, but the scarcity of walls and the long views help the units feel spacious.

"The project is in a transitional neighborhood, so we wanted to use inexpensive materials to keep the cost down," Nelson says, but they also serve to advance an industrial aesthetic. The palette included brightly painted fiber cement and corrugated galvanized metal on the exterior, and 1x6 pine slatwall, oriented strand board beams, birch plywood floors, and painted exposed trusses.

Category: Townhouse, less than 2,000 square feet; Entrant/Developer/Land Planner/Interior Designer: The Lander Group, Minneapolis; Builder: Michlitsch Builders, Plymouth, Minn.; Architect: DJR Architects, Minneapolis; Landscape Architect: Outdoor Room, St. Paul, Minn.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.