Posts tagged with "Housing":

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Seeking Refuge: Thinking differently about architectural solutions to the European refugee crisis

In a recently published article by NextCity, German students at Leibnitz University in Hannover have taken a different approach to the standard shantytown-tent communities often considered for refugee accommodation. Instead, they are proposing long-term solutions. Providing tents, containers and gyms as places to house refugees may become impractical as the refugee crisis in Europe continues. Camps, usually comprising of tens of thousands of tents—the most common provision—take up a vast amount of ground space, which can compound the problem. As an alternative, the students have created a handful of designs which feature schemes being built upon abandoned sites, narrow boats, and in car parks. The project, appropriately named "Fill the Gap," is aimed at offering pragmatic solutions to refugee housing needs in Germany. Each program should be mainly timber-based, able to be constructed within one week, and capable of housing up to 40 refugees. Speaking to Deutsche Welle, architect Jörg Friedrich said "Timber creates a more comfortable living environment than previously-used metal boxes." Friedrich, who is a professor at the Institute of Design at Leibniz University and creator of "Fill the Gap," has called for a need to provide "welcoming and comfortable architecture for refugees in Germany." "Fill the Gap" as a project, was initially only meant to hypothetically provide housing solutions for 2,500 refugees in Hannover as Friedrich consulted with psychologists, anthropologists and conflict experts. However, the project has since drastically expanded as students found more and more innovative locations for short-term dwellings. While all but one of the solutions are (currently) imaginary, the project offers valuable insight to approaching refugee housing from a different angle.  
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Are floating houses the answer to London’s housing crisis? 100 ideas for affordable housing to be showcased

Affordable housing is a hot-topic in Europe and across the world right now. To look for solutions, New London Architecture (NLA) launched a competition prompting architects, planners and citizens to submit ideas for the current housing crisis in London—and the entries are in. The competition attracted over 200 submissions from over 16 countries and NLA has released a list of 100 of the submitted schemes which include radical concepts from NBBJ, Rogers Stirk Harbour+Partners, and Grimshaw Architects, among others. Seattle-based NBBJ has proposed taking up 9,000 miles of London road to make way for residential housing whereas London practice dRMM advocate the implementation of floating houses. Infact dRMM weren't the only firm to take advantage of London's waterways. Baca Architects and the appropriately named, Floating Homes Ltd. suggested installing 7,500 prefab floating homes along the canal routes of London, something they say could be done in under a year. Floating architecture, it appears, is a powerful force in captivating the imaginations of architects. The competition hasn't just attracted architects however, property consultants GL Hearn propose constructing a megacity by the M25 highway that travels London to improve housing, retail, workspaces, and infrastructure links by 2050.
Building firm WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff says 630,000 new homes would be created by building housing on top of government institutions such as hospitals, schools, and libraries.
The list of 100 will be whittled down by the NLA to a select group of 10 which will be considered in further depth before an eventual winner is chosen. The 100 projects will go on display in London on Saturday 17th October.
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The New & Old in New Orleans: Ten years after Katrina, architects still figuring out how to rebuild housing in the city

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast region, inundating New Orleans with contaminated floodwaters, the city is in some ways still getting back on its feet. After much dispute on how to recover the city, architects and developers are looking to new construction and existing building stock for solutions. Many homes in the Crescent City were washed away or irreparably damaged. One of the most predominant home styles damaged in the storm was the so-called shotgun house, named as such due to its elongated style organized around a long corridor stretching the length of the house. That typology is has been deployed by numerous groups in the past decade to rebuild New Orleans. Developers and architects have been snagging headlines rebuilding what was lost. Most notably, Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation, has built over 100 homes in the city, many by top name architects and more still with modern designs that reinterpret the city's historic shotgun house. Make It Right has lately been building "tiny houses," a style of housing meant for people on a small budget subscribing to a fast-paced, out-of-home lifestyle that's fitting for the urban environment. This fast growing contemporary style has its benefits:
  • Storage space is limited, so there is a lower propensity to over consume and due to the size of the plot.
  • The building is relatively simple and easy to maintain (a chore no city dweller wants to labor over).
The tiny house style is very much a result of the financial crisis from which cheap housing was in demand. The above tiny house, conceived by Jordan Pollard, Make It Right’s research, design, and development manager, will sell for under $100,000. Make It Right's shift from full-scale houses to these small-scale counterparts could be a response to tighter funding streams and budget constraints, The New Republic claims. According to New Republic, in 2013 the foundation also opened up its homes to buyers who didn't previously live in the neighborhood before Katrina, indicating troubles under the surface. As Make It Right's houses struggled to attract buyers, the under-populated area also failed to attract businesses, stores, and services. That meant the predominantly elderly population living in the ultra-modern houses designed by architects such as Shigeru Ban and David Adjaye were miles away from supermarkets and other necessities. Some locals have also protested the structures' contrasting designs. When speaking to Wired, New Orleans architect Mac Ball of Waggonner & Ball said: “all these new buildings don’t look like they fit New Orleans very well.” New Republic went further, describing the new builds as a "a field of pastel-colored UFOs." Affordable housing developer Brandon Dughman is taking a different approach from building new, instead targeting existing building stock. Recently Curbed covered how Dughman renovated an old shotgun house to tactfully create a new interior. Despite the old structure's failures, Dughman celebrated quirks such as the slanted floor and visibly old doorways. Here, he has shown how the structures of New Orleans' past can still be a versatile, viable and attractive place to live.
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Pittsburgh Penguins hire Bjarke Ingels for new residential housing development

The Pittsburgh Penguins, via their residential developer are set for, in the words of Bjarke Ingels, a "promiscuous hybrid" form of residential housing aimed at bridging the Uptown and Downtown areas of Hill District. The development will occupy a 28-acre plot of land around the former home of the Penguins the Civic Arena. Pittsburgh and the residents of Hill District must be ready for an iconic and maybe even bizarre piece of development, as the Danish firm specializes in the outlandish and obscure. Copenhagen, where the firm started, has become accustomed to Ingels' eccentric works, with some 26 projects having been built there already, but this is Ingels' first foray into a mid-size American city. BIG's Pittsburgh reception remains to be seen as no renderings have yet been released, though it's hard to see it not having a positive impact in the vicinity. The area to be developed, called the Hill District, is in need of rejuvenation and has been for sometime. According to the Post-Gazette, in 2010, over 40 percent of the local population was living below the poverty line but there is positive news as well, development projects in the area are on the rise—a supermarket opened in 2013, ending a more-than-30-year food desert. Quite what BIG will dream up, no one knows. Travis Williams, COO of the Penguins, claims hiring Mr. Ingels is a coup. "It will be something new and unique for Pittsburgh and I think the results are going to be phenomenal," he told the Post-Gazette. Quite what Hill District will make of it however, remains to be seen.
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Growing Tall and Going Big: San Francisco studied density bonuses to generate affordable housing

This Fall, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal made by the city's Planning Department concerning the possibility of "relaxing" height and density limits for many of San Francisco's western neighborhoods. If enacted, the program expects to transform some of San Francisco's uninhabited residences and unused space into affordable housing units for newcomers. The city is exploring a density bonus program, which allows developers to gain building height among other incentives. The proposal, according to the San Francisco Business Times, would allow developers to build two-stories taller than normally allowed. Most parts of San Francisco restrict heights to four or six stories. Other provisions would allow parking minimum waivers and reduced setback and side yard requirements. That's all in exchange for building affordable housing. San Francisco hopes the plan could spur 7,000 new units of housing, 3,000 of those affordable. The proposal has been met with strong opposition from some neighborhood groups, the Business Times reported. Some San Francisco residents – in particular the Sunset and Richmond districts – are reluctant to expose themselves to neighborhood change. Western neighborhoods claim rezoning would render the community vulnerable to conflict, citing dense construction, parking concerns, and impacts on the transportation system. “Building density just for the sake of density isn’t the answer," Planning Department Chief John Rahaim said in a statement earlier this year. "We need to be concerned about quality of life and living space.” He acknowledged, however, that the city is in need of new affordable housing.
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Gimme Shelter: Inaugural A+D Museum exhibition promises to rethink Los Angeles housing

Opening August 20, Shelter: Rethinking How We Live in Los Angeles, the inaugural exhibition at the A+D Museum's new Arts District space presents works by architects and designers that challenge and improve upon L.A. housing typologies. The single-family house has long been the touchstone for experimental architecture in Los Angeles, from the Case Study Houses to Gehry’s own home in Santa Monica, replete with (now-removed) domesticated chain-link fencing. But as the cost of real estate puts pressure on residential architecture, new solutions for single- and multi-family housing are desperately needed. Curators Sam Lubell and Danielle Rago invited local practices to develop proposals for the Wilshire Corridor and along the Los Angeles River, these include Bureau Spectacular, LA Más, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, MAD Architects, PAR, and wHY Architecture. (Editor's Note: Both Lubell and Rago are regular contributors to AN, and Lubell is AN's former West Coast editor.) Works by Kevin Daly Architects, Michael Maltzan Architects, Bestor Architecture, OMA, R&A, and Koning Eizenberg, will also be on view. AN spoke with the curators. The title is Shelter, the absolute basis for architecture, but what does it mean to “rethink how we live” and why is this reassessment so pressing right now? Sam Lubell: LA is going through monumental changes, re-embracing density, transit, and the public realm while facing unprecedented challenges around affordability, the environment, and congestion. But while the city has always been a center for residential innovation, most residential architecture here today does not properly respond to the changes taking place. We're hoping to help spur a dialogue about reshaping our housing and our lifestyles to today's realities. It’s a great line up of practices in the show. What were your criteria for selecting participants? Danielle Rago: The show features [six new proposals] by Los Angeles design practices—each occupies a different position in the field of architecture. Yet, we believe all approach residential design in interesting and innovative ways. SL: We also wanted a mix of emerging and established firms, and practice-oriented and research-oriented firms. We think it's a great mix, full of energy, creativity, and some surprise. How did the designers address some of Los Angeles’ hot button topics: density, affordability, accessibility, and sustainability? SL: The designers have done an excellent job addressing several of these issues. wHY, for instance, tackled both density and affordability by proposing new configurations of development in underused, residual public spaces along Wilshire Boulevard. LOHA tackled environmental issues by creating homes that utilize the aquifers near the L.A. River to capture and store water. And MAD has created a new type of outdoor living within a dense cluster of interconnected, extensively landscaped towers. DR: The invited teams all investigated one if not more of these pressing issues currently affecting Angelenos. LA Más' design addressed density and affordability by reconsidering the granny flat as a new model for low-rise high-density development in Elysian Valley along the L.A. River. PAR responded to increasing density and new transit offerings on the Wilshire Corridor with their proposal for a courtyard housing tower, where each unit maintains a visual connection to nature. And Bureau Spectacular investigated environmental challenges through the study and re-application of vernacular domestic architecture in L.A.
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End of the single family house? An upzoned Seattle promises more affordable housing

Seattle is abuzz about zoning. Last week, The Seattle Times leaked a draft report produced by Mayor Ed Murray's housing task force, a 28-member committee steering the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). While the report outlines a variety of strategies to increase affordable housing in the Seattle region, one bold recommendation is getting a lot of attention: the upzoning of single family housing in Seattle to multi-family housing. On Monday, Mayor Murray released an action plan outlining the overall vision: build 20,000 affordable housing units and 30,000 market rate units in the next decade through public and private investments. By 2035, the city is expected to grow by 120,000 people. "The exclusivity of Single Family zones limits the type of housing available, limits the presence of smaller format housing and limits access for those with lower incomes," reads the action plan. "The City will allow more variety of housing scaled to fit within traditional Single Family areas to increase the economic and demographic diversity. The broader mix of housing will include small lot dwellings, cottages or courtyard housing, rowhouses, duplexes, triplexes and stacked flats." A map on the HALA website shows that the proposed upzoning changes, if passed, would affect 16 percent of Seattle. But The Seattle Times reports otherwise. An architect and developer on the housing committee told the paper that the upzoning would affect all single-family lots. You can read the final version of the Seattle housing committee report at Seattle.gov.
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HUD Secretary Julian Castro touts new planning rules for affordable housing

U.S. Housing & Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro visited Chicago today to announce a clarification to the 1968 Fair Housing Act that officials say will improve access to affordable housing in cities across the country. HUD finalized a bureaucratic rule that Castro says will correct shortcomings in the federal agency's provision of fair housing. The 1968 law, part of the Civil Rights bill, obligates HUD and its local affiliates to “affirmatively further fair housing,” a lofty goal that “has not been as effective as originally envisioned,” according to the new HUD rule. "This represents a new partnership with cities,” said Secretary Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. Standing in front of Chicago's newly expanded Park Boulevard—the mixed-income housing development was formerly Stateway Gardens, part of the corridor of South Side housing projects that included Robert Taylor Homes—Castro said the new rule will make publicly available data and mapping tools to help community members and local leaders establish local goals for the development fair housing. He added that Chicago had already used the newly available data for a preliminary exercise linking affordable housing and transit planning. The change also allows local housing agencies more time and flexibility in presenting their fair housing priorities and goals to the federal government. Castro referenced a recent Harvard study that found kids from low-income neighborhoods were statistically less likely than their wealthier counterparts to achieve upward mobility. "A zip code should never prevent anyone from reaching their greater aspirations,” said Castro.
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If swoopy renderings weren’t enough, now you can fly through Zaha Hadid’s first project in Mexico

In mid-May, AN wrote about Zaha Hadid's first project in Mexico—a sprawling, 981-unit housing complex in Monterrey. The Esfera City Center development appears as a series of interconnected, almost pixelated, mid-rise residential buildings that are centered around a communal green space. And now it has a slick video rendering that sheds new light on the project's design. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxReDJpqMMQ As with pretty much every Zaha Hadid project, the unveiling of Esfera City Center came with plenty of eye candy in the form of glossy renderings. But if those pictures left you wanting more, you're in luck! Hadid's team has also released a fly-through of the project that gives a closer look at the complex's apartments, gym, pool, and open space. Take a look at the video above for an in-depth look at Hadid's latest, inside and out. [h/t Dezeen]
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Zaha Hadid swoops into Monterrey with a pixelated housing complex, her first design in Mexico

Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has unveiled the design for its first building in Mexico, a 981 unit, mid-rise housing project in Monterrey. The original brief called for 12 towers, but ZHA proposed the alternative plan that includes a large open green space surrounded by three buildings in a rectangle. The scheme is one of Hadid’s more nuanced, as individual units are expressed as such in a pixelated, morphing grid. Each unit is styled in the firm’s signature curved massing. Usually, their buildings main function is to look like a late '90s/early 2000s basketball sneaker, namely the Adidas Crazy 97, the Jordan XV, or the Reebok Preachers. However, the so-called Esfera City Center attempts to engage with its urban surroundings, namely the two adjacent neighborhoods that are very different in character. The project is designed with ample open space to create a safe environment where both residents and passers-by feel welcome. The interconnected public zones include a café, gym, reading room, and amphitheater. The project will be built in three phases and the first is scheduled for completion in 2018.  
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Residential Buildings to Move into Two of Brooklyn’s Landmarked Theaters

With the great big residential boom in Brooklyn, the typical housing stock (brownstones, apartment complexes, and the like) has grown scarce steering developers to set their sights on the properties most readily available and ripe for conversion: churches, schools, banks, hospitals, libraries, and even municipal buildings (who needs amenities or services, anyway?!). Now, two of Brooklyn’s landmarked movie theaters—The Brooklyn Heights Cinema and Park Slope’s Pavilion Theater—have been scooped up by different developers who have proposed residential conversions. The Pavilion Theater, with its Moorish brick facade and old-fashioned marquee, first opened in the early 20th century and has had several incarnations, first as the Marathon Theatre, and then as the Sanders Theatre in in 1928. The historic cinema, however, has seen better days: According to 6sqft, the interior, which does not have landmark status, is in ramshackle condition, and has been said to have had a bed bug problem in the past few years. Developer Ben Kafash, who purchased the theater three years ago, plans to revamp the building and transform it into housing. New York City firm Architecture Outfit released two schemes, perhaps in anticipation of an obligatory review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission at some future date. One proposal turns the theater into a 6-story residential apartment complex (preserving the facade), building new apartment units facing the circle, Bartel-Pritchard Square, and adjoining a row of contemporary townhouses, outfitted with protruding windows, along 14th Street. The second scheme keeps the entire theater and replaces a one-story building at 190 Prospect Park West with new construction. The one-story, white brick building, formally housing the cozy Brooklyn Heights Cinema, has been sold to local developers Madison Estates and JMH Development for $7.5 million. The theater closed its door this past August and had been in operation for over four decades, way before Lena Dunham was buying up property in the historic neighborhood. While the new owners have yet to reveal plans for the modest structure, the Daily News said it is likely to be converted into a low-rise condo or condo building. If Brooklyn Heights residents want to see a movie, they will just have to mosey on down to DUMBO where the two-screen movie theater is moving to.
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Designed in Chicago, Made in China: Blair Kamin, Chicago designers mull Chinese urbanization

Blair Kamin convened a panel of designers at the Chicago Architecture Foundation last Wednesday for a discussion around themes explored in his recent series “Designed in Chicago, Made in China,” in which the Chicago Tribune architecture critic assessed the effects of that country’s rapid development on urbanism and design. “It’s often said that architecture is the inescapable art,” Kamin said to lead off the talk. “If that’s true then China’s urbanization is the inescapable story.” Joining Kamin were Jonathan D. Solomon, associate dean at the School of Architecture at Syracuse University; Thomas Hussey of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Ralph Johnson of Perkins + Will; and Silas Chiow, SOM’s China director. The event was part of the Tribune's "Press Pass" series. If you haven’t read Kamin's series, you should. It examined contemporary Chinese cities and some U.S. designers thereof, giving special attention to trends in three categories: work, live, and play. Photographer John J. Kim illustrated with visuals. “In regards to street life and public space,” said SOM’s Hussey, “there can be a lack of an attitude towards it.” Long Chinese “megablocks” in Shanghai’s soaring Pudong district facilitate an urbanism not on the street, which few Americans would find walkable, but it has given rise to a kind of vertical urbanism within mixed-use towers and urban malls. Hussey pointed to SOM’s plan for a new financial district in the port area of Tianjin, China’s fourth largest city, which seeks to restore the street life present in Chinese cities before rapid modern development. And while Chinese cities are growing up, they’re also growing out. Ralph Johnson of Perkins + Will reminded the audience that in the absence of property taxes, Chinese municipalities make money for new development by selling off land. That creates a ripple effect of rising property values and a pressure to sell that is devouring arable farmland. That trend’s not likely to slow down, said SOM’s Silas Chiow, since part of China’s national strategy to turn the largely manufacturing nation into a consumer country is to continue its rapid urbanization. That pressure helped produce China’s enviable mass transit systems and light rail connectivity, but also a homogeneity of design that some have called dehumanizing. Height limits, uniform standards for south-facing units and other design requirements that by themselves improve standard of living can breed sprawling, cookie-cutter developments that are easy to get lost in. Still, housing projects in China don’t carry the social stigma that they do in the U.S., commented a few panel members, in part because they’ve brought modern amenities to so many. Where China’s urbanization goes from here, however, is an open question. Images of smog-choked skylines remind some of Chicago in 1900, but the situation is not a perfect analogue. For one, the problem of carbon pollution is far more urgent now than it was then, and its sources far more potent. “Will China be the death of the urban world,” asked Kamin at the panel’s close, “or its savior?”