Posts tagged ‘affordable housing’

Replay: Homeless Housing (Part 2)

On Friday, I attended “Homeless Housing: LA and NY” at New York’s Center for Architecture. Co-organized by the Museum of Modern Art because of the current ‘Small Scale, Big Change’ exhibit, the panel presented “innovative and provocative homeless housing solutions from New York and Los Angeles.” Here are the major highlights from final presenter Michael Maltzan, representing LA:

Michael Maltzan, FAIA is the principal of Los Angeles-based Michael Maltzan Architecture and was definitely the most architect-y of the group. He frequently stressed the importance of aesthetically iconic buildings (and of form in general), but his projects still manage to be resourceful and functional. For example, the Skid Row Housing Trust’s supportive New Carver Apartments make up one of the most recognizable affordable housing projects today, and the Iwan Baan photography only catapults it that much more into icon status. What surprised me most was that the inside’s dramatic galvanized metal columns (“fins”) actually act as duct work and water ways in addition to providing “dynamic blinders” so that residents don’t feel so on display when in the building’s halls.

November 15’s daily design idea is while projects like the New Carver Apartments can be considered a fairly radical design move in the world of affordable housing, Maltzan prefers to call them “progressive.” He elaborated by saying that calling a project radical isolates it from the rest of architecture, and these buildings should be treated as equal contenders as they are integrated into larger architectural thought. I completely agree (though I still think Maltzan has some pretty wonderfully radical work).

November 15, 2010 at 8:27 pm Leave a comment

Replay: Homeless Housing (Part 1)

On Friday, I attended “Homeless Housing: LA and NY” at New York’s Center for Architecture. Co-organized by the Museum of Modern Art because of the current ‘Small Scale, Big Change’ exhibit, the panel presented “innovative and provocative homeless housing solutions from New York and Los Angeles.” Here are the major highlights from the first two presenters, Rosanne Haggerty and Jonathan Kirschenfeld, who represented NY:

In many ways, Rosanne Haggerty is a huge role model of mine. She is the founder and President of Common Ground, “a pioneer in the development of supportive housing and other research-based practices that end homelessness.” With a “network of well designed, affordable apartments linked to the services people need to maintain their housing, restore their health, and regain their economic independence,” Common Ground “has enabled more than 4,000 individuals to overcome homelessness.” One of the most amazing parts of their model is that they strive to house the neediest individuals, often those who have been homeless longer than the average rate for Americans (30 days), rather than using a different metric of worthiness.

Jonathan Kirschenfeld, principal of Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architects in New York City, is one of the contributors to Common Ground’s network of well-designed supportive housing. Kirschenfeld candidly admitted that the physical restrictions of “leftover” sites offered for affordable housing projects are difficult, as are the overall financial limitations and the design guidelines that come with the various funding sources. But he also enthusiastically offered that these boundaries can lead to great design and valuable discoveries. For example, it turns out that Kalwall (“the most highly insulating, diffuse light-transmitting, structural composite sandwich panel technology in the world”) is energy efficient, spatially efficient, a great daylighting tool, and remarkably beautiful.


rendering of interior courtyard of St. Marks project, currently under construction (rendering by Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architects)


image of two facing Kalwall facades, part of the under construction St. Marks project by Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architects

November 14’s daily design idea is a quote from Kirschenfeld in regards to homelessness: “these are problems that can be solved with good design.”

November 14, 2010 at 10:15 am Leave a comment

Architecture for Change Summit by Gisela Garrett

Re-blogged from Ecohaven Project.
Written by Jennifer Hoffman.
Originally posted October 21, 2010.
Copyright Ecohaven Project 2010.

“This past September I had the pleasure of meeting New York-based Gisela Garrett at the Architecture for Change Summit held @ UIC. I loved Gisela’s series she wrote about Public Interest Architecture in response to the summit for her blog, Daily Design Idea + asked if she would write a piece for Ecohaven Project. We look forward to future collaborations with Gisela – check out her bio on our Collaborators page. Enjoy!

>> read the piece after the jump

Continue Reading October 21, 2010 at 10:36 am Leave a comment

“We don’t build affordable housing. We build housing that is made affordable through subsidy.”

At Architecture for Change, Daniel Glenn of environmental works led the program “Too costly for affordability,” which explored the causes of relatively high costs of affordable housing projects in addition to the diversity of unofficial or illegal, but very real, affordable housing worldwide.

The fact is that squatter settlements make up most of the world’s privately built affordable housing stock. In addition, people in many countries live in nomadic shelters, cars, storage spaces, and on friend’s couches. Many individuals have also lived in college dorms with minimal personal amenities and in other forms of communal housing. Why then, asked Glenn, is there no cultural or legal standard for these types of housing in America’s longterm private housing market? In an effort to help alleviate the current housing crisis, should architects consider providing more at a somewhat lower quality instead of less at the current middle class standard?

Later in the presentation, Glenn pointed out that affordable housing projects generally take 5x the funding sources and 2x the time to complete as market-rate housing projects. So even with low materials costs, there is significant time and money used in supporting fundraising, legal, and other administrative efforts. This was reaffirmed by panel member Peter Landon, an architect, professor, and the one quoted in the title of today’s post. Recognizing this administrative burden, they asked: how can we change the business structures and, in particular, streamline funding in order to reduce these soft costs?

Despite the great panel discussion, which also included Fred Bonner of Bonheur Development Corporation, and the enthusiastic Q&A from the audience, all of these questions remain difficult and unanswered. The good news is that they are being asked increasingly at conferences, in articles, and generally amongst designers.

September 27’s daily design idea is a quote from Anna Muoio: “the challenge is to create a business model that is viable and demonstrates the value of this work.”

left photo of a squatter settlement in Durban by Flickr user Easy Traveler; right photo of Westhaven Park Phase IIB by Landon Bone Baker Architects, a mixed-income development including 45 affordable units

This post is 6 of 7 within a series exploring Public Interest Architecture.

September 27, 2010 at 4:38 pm 1 comment

“Looking good only counts if it does good, too.”

The title of this post is quoted from the website of community-oriented architecture firm David Baker + Partners, whose great video Better Living Through Density was shared by Baker during his presentation at Architecture for Change. One of my favorite moments (located at 2:04) is the comment that dense living requires less stuff but offers more opportunity for the individual and more benefits for the environment. The video also makes an especially strong argument for denser living by explaining the inverse relationship between population density and carbon footprint size (the serious charts start at 1:25).

I completely agree with Baker that density is a positive in urban environments, but I should admit that I really enjoy living in the densely populated city of New York, taking the subway daily, and being friends with my neighbors. As Richard Sciortino, the self-declared “developer in the room,” noted during his turn to play Devil’s advocate: “density requires demand.” And I know that not everyone, especially in America,  is as enchanted as Gary Chang at the idea of having only 344 square feet to themselves.

That said, Baker also pointed out that once you make something a standard, it generally gets cheaper to do, which can help previously undesirable construction options become more attractive. The cheaper-by-standardization model has certainly proved helpful in eco-friendly construction (see the 100K house for one of my favorite examples) and could probably be applied to denser models for living as well.

September 26’s daily design idea comes from an interview with Riken Yamamoto in anticipation of the upcoming book Total Housing: Alternatives to Urban Sprawl: “the system of ‘one family in one house’ is already collapsed”. Living spaciously may look nice, but the environmental and personal benefits of living smaller are becoming increasingly clear.

left photo of DB+P’s stunning and mostly affordable-unit g2 Lofts; right photo of Riken Yamamoto’s Shinonome Canal Court Block1, featured in the upcoming book Total Housing

This post is 5 of 7 within a series exploring Public Interest Architecture.

September 26, 2010 at 9:28 pm 2 comments

“Now, again, we prefer what is old to what is new.”

Jorge Mario Jáuregui, known for his socially-geared design projects, was also a speaker at City Lifters. Born in 1948, he has witnessed architecture shift to a preference for the “new” and now back to a preference for the “old.” Rather than demolishing in order to rebuild from scratch, there is definitely increasing support for renovating and revitalizing existing structures. Jorge Mario Jáuregui Architects have been able to do just that for the Favela-Barrio Project throughout Rio de Janeiro, including a current project in Manguinhos, where they will elevate existing train tracks to make room for a linear park instead of clearing an area of houses in the extremely dense favela.

The concluding program at the Architecture for Change Summit was the group presentation ‘Affordability Through Preservation.’ Royce Yeater, of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, spoke broadly about how the rehabilitation of historic homes can be a viable solution for affordable housing. One of many reasons is that starting with an existing structure is a great way to minimize materials costs. Another reason, demonstrated by the Favela-Barrio Project, is minimal disruption of the existing neighborhood fabric.

John McDermott, of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, and Charles Leeks, of Chicago’s Neighborhood Housing Services, both spoke about specific Chicago neighborhoods that are relying on historic preservation as a way to support affordable housing initiatives. McDermott shared the history and the current political dynamics surrounding the Julia Lathrop Homes, one of the nation’s first public housing developments. Uniquely, the Lathrop development has never had market-rate housing and has also never had any new construction projects throughout its entire history (though that may be about to change). Leeks spoke about North Lawndale, an area filled with historic “greystones,” an astonishing 1,714 of which have been documented in North Lawndale. Leeks and McDermott both touched on how the process of formal historic documentation can garner new support and stakeholders, and can therefore be a fantastic tool for revitalization in a neighborhood.

September 24’s daily design idea is while historic preservation didn’t start as a community building tool, it has absolutely become one. It’s time to start leveraging those opportunities.

left sketch of the Manguinhos project designed by Jorge Mario Jáuregui Architects; right photo of North Lawndale’s greystones, photo by Eric Young Smith

This post is 3 of 7 within a series exploring Public Interest Architecture.

September 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm 1 comment

Extreme concrete.

According to Wikipedia, “concrete is used more than any other man-made material in the world.” If you’re like us at Daily Design Idea, then you probably could have guessed that. But I bet you also couldn’t have imagined how such everyday material has inspired the following three ingenious ideas:

via Dezeen (November 27, 2009):

“UK company Concrete Canvas have been awarded Material of the Year 2009 by materials consultancy Material ConneXion for their cement-impregnated fabric.”

I have yet to see it in person, but this material is one of the most interesting ones I’ve heard about in a long time. I’m especially intrigued by its uses for “rapidly deployable hardened shelters.”

via Greenopolis (March 29, 2010):

“UK company Affresol offers a truly novel building material called Thermo Poly Rock (TPR), which is… stronger than concrete, waterproof, fire retardant, and can be used to build low-cost modular housing. Each house built with TPR panels will save an average of 18 tons of waste material from being disposed of in landfills.”

I love that this material is innovative, environmentally responsible, and extremely practical. But more than anything, I love that “Affresol houses are specifically aimed at providing spacious, 2, 3, and 4 bedroom quality homes for lower income families.”

via Dezeen (March 18, 2010):

“Dutch designers Tejo Remy & René Veenhuizen have designed a collection of furniture that looks inflated but is actually made of cast concrete.”

In a press release for a show at the Industry Gallery in DC, which featured this collection, the designers talked a bit about their process: “The original idea was to work with big rubber molds to create a soft appearance,” said Veenhuizen.  Remy added, “We reduced the size of the works to make them more manageable. Then, as we experimented with the concrete, we became interested in the amount of pressure the concrete put on the molds, and how the end result made that pressure permanently visible.”

June 23’s daily design idea is think outside the box, the tradition, the expectations, and the mold.

June 23, 2010 at 2:36 pm 1 comment

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