Dutch Architects Transform Rotterdam House Into Terraced “Urban Paradise”

© Thomas Mayer

Two Dutch designers, collectively known as HUNK-design, have transformed their 19th century top floor apartment into a “unique city paradise.” Architect Bart Cardinaal and artist Nadine Roos, who have lived in parts of the house in central Rotterdam since their student years, have created a large outdoor terraced space amid the rooflines of a built up area. By demolishing the existing pitched roof, they have constructed what they describe as their “Cabrio apartment.”

Disaster Relief Housing For The Next “Superstorm”

Exterior Of The Prefabricated Relief Units. Image Courtesy of GOTHAMIST / JAKE DOBKIN

With hurricanes Sandy and Katrina etched into recent memory, the need for post-disaster relief housing is now. New York City and Garrison Architects have developed a modular, prefabricated housing system to relieve displaced citizens during the next “superstorm.” At only 40′ by 100′ long, they can squeeze into the city’s smallest corners – all while having kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and storage spaces. The prototype is on display in Brooklyn – but you can see the entire design at the A/N Blog.

Make It Right Unveils 5 New Designs for Housing in Fort Peck Reservation

’ Design. Image Courtesy of Living Homes

Make It Right, the organization founded by Brad Pitt to provide to those in need, has unveiled 5 designs for their new initiative in the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana. The designs – by GRAFT, Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative, Architecture for Humanity, Method Homes and Living Homes - are inspired by cradle-to-cradle principles, will be LEED Platinum rated and have been developed alongside community consultation with the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes of Fort Peck.

The organization is planning to build 20 new homes on the reservation, as well as developing a sustainable masterplan for the entire 3,300 square mile reservation, with construction planned to start later this year.

More on the development of Make It Right’s Fort Peck initiative after the break.

Event: “House Housing: An Untimely History of Architecture and Real Estate”

House Housing is the first public presentation of a multi-year research project conducted by the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University. Situated in the Casa Muraro in and staged as an open house, the exhibition responds unsolicited to the proposal by Rem Koolhaas, curator of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, that architecture focus on its “fundamentals.”

According to the organisers, “House Housing replies by considering architecture’s economic fundamentals, which locate housing at the center of the current economic regime, with the United States as an influential node in a transnational network. In architecture, economic fundamentals are built from the ground up. The laws of real estate—relating to the acquisition of land, the financing of construction, the cost of building maintenance and services, profit from rent or resale, the value of equity, or the price of credit—inexorably shape any building component (like a ) and any building type (like a house).”

“They are visible even in the residential work of such singular figures as Frank Lloyd Wright, not least because the Greek oikos, or household, forms the root of the word “economy” itself. But look closely and you will see that what seems fundamental, basic, or natural is, like any other law, a historical artifact permanently under construction and subject to change. House Housing narrates nineteen brief episodes from across the last one hundred years in a mixture of domestic media.”

Find out more about the event here.

The Future of Brick: Biodegradable And Bacterial

Biodegradable Brick Is The Featured Material In This Years MoMA PS1 Exhibit, But Is It Suitable For Housing? . Image Courtesy of

MoMA’s PS1 exhibit in Queens is a showcase for young architects with lofty ideas. This year’s winning firm “The Living” designed “Hi-Fy” – a biodegradable brick tower. Although the idea might seem far-fetched for housing, the idea is gaining traction. North Carolina start-up bioMason, recently won the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Challenge for their “biodegradable bricks.” So Kieron Monks at CNN had to ask the question, would you live in a house made of sand, bacteria or fungi? Find out the benefits of these modern bricks here.

NBRS Proposes to Extend High Line Vertically

Exterior View. Image © NBRS + Partners

In response to New York City’s rapidly expanding population, NBRS + Partners has proposed a 40 story tall skyscraper that could help the city embrace its rapidly shifting demographics and size. Entitled “VIVO on ,” the adaptable steel-frame tower is essentially the vertical extension of the city’s beloved park. 

“The podium screen engulfs the High Line folding it in and extending the lifeblood into the building base, like capillary action drawing it vertically,” described the team.

Minha Casa, Nossa Cidade: Brazil’s Social Housing Policy & The Failures of the Private-Public System

Courtesy of Ruby Press

In 2009, the Brazilian government launched the program “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” (“My House, My Life”), which aims to build 3.4 million housing units by the end of 2014. Minha Casa—Nossa Cidade (Ruby Press, 2014), produced by the MAS Urban Design program at the ETH Zurich, examines the project at a critical time and presents ways to improve its design and implementation. Divided into three chapters, the book reviews the history, guidelines, and construction of the “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” program (MCMV) through long-form essays, opinion pieces, interviews, diagrams, and photographic image material. The following excerpt, written by Sandra Becker, proposes an answer to the question of why the program – despite its aims to meet the huge demand for housing for low-income families - has thus far failed to provide the Brazilian people the “quality cities [they] desire.” 

From the Publisher. In June 2013, saw a wave of protests unprecedented in the country’s history. Millions of people filled the streets demanding better education, public transportation, and healthcare. While the rage driving the protests was directed at politicians, it is unlikely that the problem can be reduced to the failure of the political system. Instead, shouldn’t the protests point out the inequalities caused by the neoliberal policies that dominate the global economy?

In the first quarter of 2009, responding to the global financial crisis that had begun the previous year, the Brazilian government launched an ambitious social housing program to encourage the economy’s construction sector. The program, “Minha Casa, Minha Vida,” was initially developed to build one million houses. In September 2011, the program launched its second phase with a goal of providing another 2.4 million housing units. The program aims to confront a historical deficiency in housing, a shortage of approximately 5.8 million dwellings.

Tammo Prinz Architects Propose Platonian Tower in Lima

Courtesy of

Tammo Prinz’s competition entry for a new residential tower in Lima, Peru, proposes the use of platonian bodies to generate dramatic interior and exterior spaces.

The dodekaeder structure drives the form of the design whilst smaller cubic shapes are strategically placed within this to generate spaces for everyday living. The relationship between these two spatial qualities, of interior and exterior, reveals a series of unique spaces that can be used as an extension of the interior, or as a balcony-like outdoors area.

Building Trust International Constructs Sustainable Housing in Cambodia

Courtyard House render. Image © Building Trust International

Building Trust International, in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity and Karuna Cambodia, has realized three winning designs from the 2013 Future of Sustainable Housing in Cambodia

Built on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, the constructed designs sought to provide impoverished Cambodians with new options for safe and secure homes under $2000 that are capable of withstanding flood and able to be expanded in phases.

Check out the three completed designs, after the break…

AIA Names 10 Most Impressive Houses of 2014

Sol Duc Cabin; Seattle / Olson Kundig Architects

The American Institute of Architects () has selected ten recipients for their 14th annual Awards. Considered to be the year’s most impressive works, the awards are designed to “recognize the best in U.S. housing design” and “promote the importance of good housing as a necessity of life, a sanctuary for the human spirit and a valuable national resource.” The winners, after the break… 

Urban Think Tank Takes on Housing in South Africa’s Townships

Despite 20 years of government promises to improve the quality of following the end of apartheid, for many in South Africa‘s townships there has been little noticeable change. This is not to say that the South African government has not been working to meet these goals; however, the scale of the problem is so large, and with population growth and migration, the challenge is only getting greater.

That’s why Urban Think Tank, in collaboration with ETH Zurich and South African NGO Ikhayalami, have worked together on a design for a more immediate, incremental solution called “Empower Shack.

A Brief History of the Windowless House

The Vertical Glass House (2013), built at the West Bund Biennale of Architecture and Contemporary Art, Shanghai. Image Courtesy of Atelier FCJZ

In this article, originally published by Metropolis as “Houses Without Windows: Meditative Respites or Architectural Straightjackets?“, Komal Sharma looks into the architectural oddity that is the completely enclosed house. While many would shudder at the idea, there is a rich history of houses which, in exceptional circumstances and with exceptional clients, make sense without windows.

The Vertical Glass House by Chinese architects Atelier FCJZ is disingenuous to say the least. Its name suggests a vertical derivative of Philip Johnson‘s canonical house, and in fact its architects describe it as a 90-degree rotation of the typical modernist glass house. Instead, what welcomes visitors at Shanghai‘s Xuhui waterfront is a four-story concrete house without any windows. Where is all that promised glass, you might ask? 

The answer is inside. The house’s textured concrete walls give it the appearance of a bunker, but the interiors are actually light-filled. The architects accomplish this through an inverted sense of space. Where one expects walls of glass, yielding a platonic prism that brazenly exposes inhabitants to the outside world, the house instead delivers a surprising twist: the 7-cm-thick floor slabs are completely transparent, endowing users with a Superman-like sense of see-through vision. The experience of looking up through all of the house’s spaces, even the most private spaces like the bathroom, is breathtakingly novel.

Read on for more about the phenomenon of -less houses

The Freakonomics Podcast Tackles the Question: Why Is Japan Crazy About Housing?

House NA / Sou Fujimoto Architects. Image © Iwan Baan

Freakonomics has just posted a fascinating new podcast that takes on the question posed by Alastair Townsend in our AD original article: “Why Japan is Crazy About Housing.” The podcast consults with Townsend and economic experts to present a thought-provoking answer to the puzzling question of why builds architecture that is avant-garde and yet, ultimately, disposable. The answer may just surprise you. Listen to the whole podcast here:

The Winners of d3 Housing Tomorrow 2014

Courtesy of d3

d3 has just announced the winners of its annual Housing Tomorrow competition, a that urges its participants to “deploy innovative, socially- and environmentally-engaged approaches to urbanism, architecture, interiors, and designed objects” in order to determine “new architectonic strategies for living in the future.” As always, the results are fantastic, thought-provoking visions of a more sustainable world. See the winners, after the break.

Richard Rogers’ Pre-Fab Y-Cube Takes on UK Housing Crisis

The Y-Cube Deployed. Image Courtesy of

The Y-Cube, a £30,000 factory-built 26 square meter flat which can be easily transported and craned into place, has been prototyped and successfully tested in the UK. The asked Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to create the Y-Cube, an affordable alternative for residents moving on from the non-profit’s hostels. And now, the YMCA wants more of these one-bedroom dwellings.

“The beauty is that the units can be moved off site as quickly as they are installed,” says Andy Redfearn of the YMCA, “as we operate on short-term leases – we expect people to stay [in the Y-Cube] for between three to five years, giving them time to skill up and save for a deposit.”

Tejlgaard & Jepsen Transform a Temporary Geodesic Dome Into a Permanent Structure

Courtesy of Tejlgaard & Jepsen

In order to generate a debate on the future of housing, Danish designers Tejlgaard & Jepsen are in the process of permanently reconstructing the People’s Meeting Dome as a gift from BL (’s Public Housing) and Lokale & Anlægsfonden to the Island of and the city of Allinge. Having previously been erected twice as a temporary event space, this final incarnation of the dome will be inaugurated at the next Folkemøde (an annual gathering of Danish politicians), with the intention of becoming a community and event centre for the city

Refugee Housing Unit Selected as Finalist for World Design Impact Prize

RHU via World Design Impact

An IKEA prototype for a modular “Refugee Housing Unit” has been selected as one of three finalists for the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design’s (Icsid) 2014. The pilot project was lauded for providing a “temporary shelter in which facilitates ‘a feeling of normality’ for families living in refugee camps.” The project will be measured against a “BioLite HomeStove” and “ABC Syringe” before an overall prize winner is announced. You can learn more about the unit here and preview the competing innovations here.

Round-Up: 5 Striking Examples of Social Housing

Hatert by 24H Architecture. Image © 24H architecture

For many people, there is an unfortunate stigma attached to social housing. Fortunately, some countries have realized that one of the best ways to combat this stigma is through good design, leading to some striking and unusual blocks in countries such as Spain, France, Slovenia and Belgium. This article on the blog Best MSW Programs has a list of the top 30 social housing blocks worldwide, but here on ArchDaily we’ve collected 5 of our favorites: Elemental‘s Monterrey Housing, the Tetris Apartments by OFIS Architekti, Savonnerie Heymans by MDW Architecture, 24H Architecture‘s Hatert Housing and KOZ Architectes‘ Tête en l’air. You can also see the top 30 list here.