New York–based design studio MOS Architects recently developed an experimental model of housing using only foam blocks. The pixelated structure, reminiscent of the sturdy ziggurats from ancient Mesopotamia, is not only cheap and environmentally friendly, but, according to the architects, it can also be constructed within a few days. According to the firm’s traditional method of labeling, the Tetris-style prototype has been dubbed “House No. 12, A Foam House with 98 Blocks of Foam and 8 Doors.” MOS designed the structure specifically for low-income families who suffer from poverty and homelessness. By using expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, a lightweight and easily maneuverable material that helps insulate the shelter, they were able to construct a house that is innovative, hyper-functional, and cost-effective. EPS foam is typically used to insulate packages due to its compact yet lightweight structure. These material characteristics will provide a wide range of benefits to future homeowners, who can dwell within each unit fully protected from the outside elements. Once House No. 12 is built to full-size, its exterior will be coated with a rough cement and stucco finish, further protecting its soft, spongy center. As the name suggests, House No. 12 features 98 foam blocks and eight different entryways. It also includes an open and flexible floor plan, equipped with a spacious kitchen, living area, and bedroom. According to the architects, the layout of the prototype was inspired by a ziggurat because throughout history ziggurats have been symbols of power, domination, and protection. The massive stone temples were known architecturally for their wide, protective bases and narrow, flat tops. MOS Architects expects that once constructed in real life House No. 12 will bring hope to underserved communities who seek a safe place to live, while also representing a better way of life.
Posts tagged with "low-income housing":
In 2006, the 28th St. YMCA was added to the City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments List, and in 2009 it was added to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.In 1926, just three years after becoming the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Paul R. Williams designed a landmark YMCA building on 28th Street in Los Angeles. Nearly ninety years later, the building has been restored, and transformed, into a modern multi-family housing complex. Koning Eizenberg Architects (KEA) worked on the project for Jim Bonner, FAIA, architect and executive director of the nonprofit affordable housing organization Clifford Beers Housing. The architects restored the historic 52-unit building, reorganizing the layout into 24 studio apartments, and constructed a new 5-story, 25 studio apartment building next door. The project features a perforated metal screen scrim wall, an integrated photovoltaic panel wall, restored historic stone work. and a shared roof deck that programmatically connects the historic building with it’s modern neighbor. There were two very different projects involved: a substantial restoration and a 5-story new infill construction building. Brian Lane, Managing Principal at KEA says these two projects were “married at the hip”: “We were digitally analyzing Paul Williams’ work on top of crafting our own work.” The architects carefully looked at shadow lines to understand the restored, cast-stone balcony and other components, generating drawings from a careful analysis from historic photographs, looking at shadow lines to understand profiled depths of the historic work. This commitment to digital analysis is most noticeably exploited on a new perforated metal scrim wall, visually buffering the apartment buildings’ circulation system from the sidewalk. The patterning and tabbing of the aluminum metal panels are derived from digitally-controlled abstractions of historic ornamentation found on Williams’ building. In addition to the two-dimensional surface treatment of the aluminum, the panels are assembled on a sub-frame that incrementally rotates outward to provide views of nearby downtown Los Angeles. Julie Eizenberg, Founding Principal of KEA, says that this move creates an effect that is “less rigid,” and “loosens where things begin and end.” The wall system is the result of a collaborative and iterative design process with LA-based C.R. Laurence who, among other things, fabricated the panels. KEA exploited design opportunities of die-cut metal fabrication after discovering a significant cost savings over newer water jet-cutting technology. This included experimentation with the perforation process: various radii were tested, and they developed a “hanging chad” perforation style that cuts and bends the metal at a controlled 37.5 degree angle. The architect’s iterative process during the design phase of the metal screen wall included studies of numerous digitally abstracted patterns, laser-cut study models in chipboard, and mock-ups of the panels. By selectively controlling which perforations remain connected to the panel, a secondary pattern becomes visible in the panel. Lane says there was significant value brought to the project through this low cost fabrication method: “We got a real richness and depth to the panel in a very affordable way.” One of the successes of the screen is the dynamic visual quality of the screen through various lighting conditions. Sunlight is reflected off of the perforated screen during the day, while a soft backlit glow is emitted through perforations during the evenings. On the south facade of the building, a “rainscreen” made of jet black photovoltaic panels is set one foot off of the stark white stucco building facade. While some efficiency was lost by orienting the panels in a vertical array, locating the panels on the facade was done out of necessity. With the rooftop area taken up by various building systems, the south facade became an opportunity to integrate renewable energy features. In the spirit of this “low-tech/high-value” type of project, the PV array helps to block direct gain, while promoting air circulation behind the assembly. Architecturally, the project has been celebrated for it’s novel organization of building systems, its “low-tech” approach to adding value to standard building components, and its dialog between old and new (namely its registering of a digitally manipulated image of historic architectural ornamentation prominently on a primary facade). Outweighing the architectural innovations are the social and cultural benefits to the design, which re-establishes this building’s role as an important cultural community resource by bringing living quarters in compliance with contemporary standards and offers a sense of dignity to low income housing residents and staff.
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national philanthropic organization that provides monetary support for the shoring up of distressed communities, has pledged $100 million in capital to lead an effort to develop 15 low-income neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles. Under the city’s Measure R, plans for expansion of light rail and rapid bus lines within these communities are currently underway. The monetary initiative by LISC will continue development beyond transit, expanding affordable housing, schools, businesses, and community facilities, and will complete market assessments of each neighborhood to strategize locale-specific investment. In 2012, LISC completed initial market profiles of two Los Angeles neighborhoods, Boyle Heights and Leimert Park. The research results provide analysis of the current economic state of each community, block-by-block. This information can be used in plans for future investments, redevelopment initiatives, and to attract businesses. With their pledged effort, the private organization plans to evaluate 13 other low-income neighborhoods over the next 18 months: Central Vermont, Crenshaw North, El Sereno, Highland Park, Koreatown, Main & Vermont, East Hollywood, North Vermont, Pico Union, Pacoima, Van Nuys, Watts, and Westlake. Each of these areas is scheduled for construction of a local public transportation hub by the City of Los Angeles and in combination with new improvement projects by LISC, can increase their overall value. “Low-income communities can be good places to live, work, raise families and do business,” said LISC Los Angeles executive director Claudia Lima in a statement. “Our goal is to speak to the rich potential of the people, markets and physical assets in these targeted areas."
Facebook is planning to move from the virtual to the physical world with its latest venture: a 394-unit infill housing development known as Anton Menlo. The company is collaborating (in an advisory role) with California developer St. Anton Partners and architecture firm KTGY on the project, located on 10 acres of former industrial land near Marsh Road in Menlo Park. The development is within walking distance of Facebook’s headquarters and new West Campus. The $120 million development will include 35 studio apartments, 208 one-bedrooms, 139 two-bedroom apartments, and 12 three-bedroom apartments. Fifty-three of the units are reserved for low-income applicants, and Facebook's funding will cover the gap between market and reduced rent for 15 of these apartments, per an agreement between the company and the City of Menlo Park. All of the apartments will be open to the general public. Proposed transit-oriented developments include the extension of a local bike path to the new housing, plus improved pedestrian sidewalks and crosswalks. Residents will also have access to an on-site bicycle repair shop and bike storage. Anton Menlo has passed zoning approval and is currently under design review by the City of Menlo Park. Construction, which will last approximately 24 months, will begin this fall.