Chapter 7: Principles of Northern Housing Design with Examples from Alaska

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The Arctic has unique challenges and needs with respect to housing due to extreme climate, remoteness of communities, cultural aspects, and other factors. Attempts to adopt designs from other regions often resulted in failures, such as rotten building envelopes or features incompatible with local values. The main goal of this chapter is to inform a broad audience involved in northern housing about basic principles important for the Arctic. Particular attention is given to energy efficiency, health and durability, foundations appropriate for the underlying terrain such as permafrost, inclusive design process to assure meeting cultural and other needs and building design factoring in seasonality and logistical challenges of remote communities. Examples of existing prototype homes are given throughout the chapter to demonstrate how the individual principles can be successfully applied in real-life scenarios. This chapter also covers current trends, what the future might look like, how it is informed by indigenous perspectives, and how northern housing design can influence approaches in other regions of the world. The ultimate goal is to contribute to a vibrant future of communities in the Arctic and beyond.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationDesign and the Built Environment of the Arctic
EditorsL. Cho, M. Jull
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CH-5600-86233


  • Arctic
  • cultural aspects
  • extreme climate
  • inclusive design
  • northern housing
  • permafrost
  • remoteness of communities


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