AIA Names 10 Most Impressive Houses of 2015

La Casa Permanent Supportive Housing / Studio Twenty Seven Architecture + Leo A Daly

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) have announced the recipients of the 2015 Housing Awards. Currently in its 15th year, the are designed to “recognize the best in US 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.” This year, the jury awarded ten designs in three categories. See them all, after the break.

Robert A.M. Stern to Build Britian’s Most Expensive Flats

Rendering. Image © RAMSA

If approved, Robert A.M. Stern will build ’s most expensive flats. Aiming to replace a 1960s car park and a number of other buildings in city’s Mayfair district, the £2 billion “Audley Square House” apartment block is being commissioned by Phones4U billionaire John Caudwell.

As BD Online reports, Caudwell abandoned an already approved £300 million Foster + Partners scheme in favor of Stern’s neo-classical design, saying he chose the New York-based architect for his “ability to design high-quality buildings that do not stand apart from their surroundings but rather fit in comfortably amongst their neighbors.”

SHoP’s 626 First Avenue Coming Soon to NYC’s East River

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Construction is underway on SHoP Architects‘ newest addition to the New York skyline – 626 First Avenue. The conjoined towers, slated for completion in early 2016, aims to stimulate development on the city’s East River. Once complete, they will add 800 units to the area connected via a sky bridge. Featured amenities will include an indoor lap pool, communal lounge areas, rooftop deck, fitness center, and film screening room. In addition to the cooper structures, SHoP will also design all the buildings’ interiors and furniture, making the development a true gesamtkunstwerk.

Read on for more images of the project and a fly-through around the structure. 

Is Housing at the Root of Inequality?

The Metabolists developed some of the most radical solutions of the past century, aiming to make dwellings that were not only affordable, but on demand. Would similar ideas help to reduce inequality today?. Image © Arcspace

Ever since last year, in response to the publication of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the hot topic in the field of economics has been inequality. Piketty’s book, which argues that if left unchecked wealth will be increasingly concentrated into the already wealthy end of society, many saw the book as evidence for progressive taxes on the wealthiest members of a society. However, according to The Economist a new critique of Piketty’s work is making waves among economists. A paper by MIT graduate student Matthew Rognlie argues that, since the 1970s, the only form of capital that has demonstrably increased the wealth of the wealthy is housing. With this in mind, The Economist suggests that, instead of focusing on taxation, ”-makers should deal with the planning regulations and NIMBYism that inhibit housebuilding.” Read more about Rognlie’s paper at The Economist, or (for the more adventurous) read the paper for yourself here.

Images Released of Tadao Ando’s First NYC Building

© Noë & Associates and The Boundary

Tadao Ando has unveiled his first New York building. An “ultra-luxury” condominium project known as 152 Elizabeth Street, the 32,000-square-foot building will replace an existing parking lot with a concrete structure comprised of seven residences – all of which will be “treated as custom homes” and “individually configured.”

“Part , part jewel box, the building makes a strong yet quiet statement with a façade comprised of voluminous glass, galvanized steel and flanked by poured in-place and a living green wall that rises the height of the building,” says the architects. The green wall, measuring 55-feet-high and 99-feet-wide and spanning the entire southern façade, is expected to be one of the largest in New York and will be designed by landscaping firm M. Paul Friedberg and Partners.

Fresh Bid To Save Robin Hood Gardens From Demolition

© Steve Cadman

It has been reported that London’s Robin Hood Gardens  estate, which was thought to be finally condemned in March 2012, has re-entered a state of flux due to governmental indecision. The former UK Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, gave the housing scheme an immunity from listing certificate in 2009, meaning that no concerned party could bid for it to gain protected status under British law. This certificate, designed to ensure that the buildings would be swiftly demolished, has now expired. This has led the Twentieth Century Society (C20) to launch a new bid for the estate to be both saved and protected.

Your Home by Mail: The Rise and Fall of Catalogue Housing

Gordon-Van tine’s ready-cut homes (1918). Image Courtesy of Openlibrary.org

is one of the most persistent challenges faced by the construction industry, and over the course of decades certain trends rise and fall, as entrepreneurial providers carve out new niches to provide for expanding populations and changing demographics. Originally published by BuzzBuzzHome as “The Rise and Fall of The Mail-Order House,” this article explores the craze of so-called “catalogue homes” – flat-packed houses that were delivered by mail – which became popular in North America in the first decades of the 20th century.

The testimonials make it sound effortless: building your own house is no sweat.

In the front pages of a 1921 Sears Roebuck catalogue for mail-order homes, a resident of Traverse City, Michigan identified only by the pseudonym “I Did Not Hire Any Help” wrote to the company: “I am very well pleased with my Already Cut House bought off you. All the material went together nicely. In fact, I wish I had another house to put up this summer. I really enjoyed working on such a building, and I do not follow the carpenter trade either.” It’s estimated that more than 100,000 mail-order homes were built in the United States between 1908 and 1940. It was the IKEA of housing, but instead of spending an afternoon putting together a bookshelf, buyers would take on the formidable task of building a house. Or, more commonly, get a contractor to do it. Homebuyers would pick a design of their choice out of a mail-order catalogue and the materials – from the lumber frame boards to the paint to the nails and screws – would be shipped out to the closest railway station for pickup and construction.

Kjellander + Sjöberg’s Swedish Urban Block to Increase “Civic Dialogue”

Courtesy of Kjellander + Sjöberg

Kiruna, Sweden’s northernmost town, made international headlines last year when it was announced that the entire town would be relocated two miles to the east due to mining operations by the state-controlled company. Now, the first phase of the Kiruna square redevelopment is set to commence with a design by Stockholm-based Kjellander + Sjöberg for an urban block of units around the town’s central square.

Kjellander + Sjöberg, along with development group Skanska, won a competition held by Municipality for the square’s regeneration. Under the moniker Fjällbäcken, the urban block responds to the idiosyncratic subarctic climate in a manner the architects describe as “sustainable in the long term.” When realized, the 2000m2 housing development will have 90 apartments and feature a host of sustainable solutions. Onsite rainwater management facilities are incorporated into the project’s planning, alongside provisions for green space and ecofriendly heating and cooling systems.

Learn more about the project and view selected images after the break.

New York to Complete First Prefabricated “Micro-Apartments” this Year

With floor areas clocking in at as little as 260 square feet, housing units by nARCHITECTS are the latest singles-oriented housing option to enter the New York rental market. The modular units will be fabricated at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for stacking in Kips Bay this spring, and are projected to welcome their first inhabitants by the end of 2015.

Current New York city zoning and density rules set a minimum apartment floor area of 400 square feet, yet this regulation was waived for My Micro NY in the interests of creating more affordable housing. An inflated rental market has long posed issues for those seeking housing in the city, particularly singles and students with tight budgets. My Micro NY will create 9 stories and 55 individual apartments, whose features include 9 and 10 foot ceiling heights, Juliette balconies, and concealed storage space.

A look inside, after the break. 

Student Housing from República Portátil to Foster Stronger Community Ties

Courtesy of República Portátil

Chilean architects República Portátil have revealed their proposal for temporary multi-residential housing in Concepción, Chile.  Responding to sites left vacant in the wake of the 2010 Chile Earthquake, the Vertical Student project would accommodate and members of the general public alike.

Driven by a desire to “promote interaction and relationships among strangers,” República Portátil frame the housing project as a counterpoint to “standardized real estate projects” which, in their view, encourage “social segregation of the city.”

Learn more about the project and view selected images after the break.

Creating A ‘Domesday Book’ Of Post-War Tower Blocks

Hulme Crescents, Manchester (c.1971)

The Edinburgh College of Art have announced that they will be creating a ‘Domesday Book’ catalogue of every multistory project in the . The project – called Tower Blocks – Our Blocks! - will contain over 3,500 publicly accessible photographs from the 1980s, documented “at a time when post-1945 high-rise housing is continuously under threat threat across the [UK].” All images will be made searchable in a digital archive.

According to Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, “as the high rise towers that have dominated many towns’ and city’s skylines begin to disappear, it is important for us to capture this heritage and give voice to the experiences of those who live in these flats and communities. The Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to be able to help make this happen.”

The project is set to be completed by 2017.

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Pei Cobb Freed Breaks Ground on Boston’s Tallest Residential Tower

© , Cambridge Seven Associates

Construction has commenced on Pei Cobb Freed & Partners’ 61-story tower in Boston’s historic Back Bay. The $700 million development will be the tallest residential building in the city, and the tallest tower to rise since the 1976 John Hancock Tower, also designed by Pei Cobb Freed.

“The project allows us to consider once again how a tall building, together with the open space it frames, can respond creatively to the need for growth while showing appropriate respect for its historic urban setting,” says Henry Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

RSHP Reveals Plans for the “Ladywell Pop-Up Village” in Lewisham

Courtesy of

Addressing increasing housing demands in the London Borough of Lewisham, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) has unveiled their plans for the “Ladywell Pop-Up Village,” which is to become one of the UK’s first temporary housing villages.

The short term housing will provide accommodation for 24 families, alongside community and commercial spaces at street level. Drawing its name from the site of the former Ladywell Leisure Centre upon which it is to be located, the Ladywell Pop-Up Village is fully demountable, thanks to its volumetric construction technology. It is envisioned that the housing units will remain at the Ladywell site for up to four years, after which point they can be relocated throughout the Borough as needed.

UK Housing Review Panel “Needs To Be More Balanced,” Admits Terry Farrell

© Agnese Sanvito, via Farrells Facebook Page

Last week the UK Government appointed a new design panel, intended to “ensure that new homes are not only lower-cost but also high-quality and well-designed.” The panel will be led by Terry Farrell, classical architect Quinlan Terry and aesthetics philosopher Roger Scruton, as well as representatives from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the UK Design Council and lobby group Create Streets. However, the profession was quick to criticize the selection of the three lead members of the panel.

Video: Alison And Peter Smithson On Housing

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In 1970 the BBC followed architects Alison and Peter Smithson through the construction of their seminal housing project, Robin Hood Gardens (). The impact of their architecture continues to resonate well into the 21st century, most recently in the British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Robin Hood Gardens was demolished in 2013, bringing an end to the Smithson’s utopian vision. Listen to Alison Smithson explain the European Housing Condition (as the vision stood in 1970), the state of British infrastructure as it was, and hear Peter Smithson discuss the impetus for their most famous collective housing project.

MenoMenoPiu Proposes Capsule Hotel for Short-Term Housing in Paris

© MenoMenoPiu Architects

With nearly 120 museums, has the largest concentration of museums in the world. This, as MenoMenoPiu Architects believes, puts the city at risk of becoming a living conservatory. Therefore the Parisian practice has proposed the “EauBerge Paris Capsule Hotel” as a way to mitigate the need for short-term for tourists and preserve the quality of everyday life for residents.

“Just like the other European capitals such as Rome, Venice, or Barcelona, Paris risks to become a city museum,” says MenoMenoPiu. “The increase of tourists in the French Capital causes panic and also leads to a gradual decentralization from the Parisians.”

TED Talk: How to Reinvent the Apartment Building / Moshe Safdie

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Nearly 50 years after realizing Habitat ’67, when the need for high quality affordable housing is at an all time high, Moshe Safdie is expanding on his ideas first explored in the stacked Montreal utopia to discover just how natural light and the feeling openness can be achieved in today’s megalopolises. Watch as Safdie makes a case to do away with the high-rise in the short TED Talk above.

Four Steps to Fix the Global Affordable Housing Shortage

Mirador Project by MVRDV in Spain aligns with McKinsey’s goals for affordable . Image © Flickr User Wojtek Gurak; Licensed via Creative Commons

According to global consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, the projected cost of providing affordable housing to 330 million households around the world currently living in substandard accommodation is $16 trillion USD. The firm’s latest report, A Blueprint for Addressing the Global Affordable Housing Challenge, assesses critical pathways for providing housing to families across a range of socio-economic backgrounds and nationalities. According to the report, adequate and could be out of reach for more than 1.6 billion people within a decade. The comprehensive report examines everything from income to cost of heating, boiling down the data into four key mandates aimed at solving the global housing crisis.

The proposed solution is one of ascending goals, similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with a four-tiered plan targeted towards households earning 80% or less of the median income for any given region. The program is designed to meet McKinsey’s 2025 Housing Challenge which aims to provide housing to a projected 440 million households worldwide within ten years through community engagement,  gathering funding, appropriate delivery of housing models, and creation of governmental infrastructure to sustain housing.

Find out the four steps to solving the global affordable housing shortage after the break