True North / EC3

True North / EC3 - Beam, Arch, ArcadeTrue North / EC3 - WindowsTrue North / EC3 - Windows, Facade, Arch, BeamTrue North / EC3 - Cityscape, FacadeTrue North / EC3 - More Images+ 27

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True North / EC3 - Facade, Arch
© Chris Miele

Text description provided by the architects. True North is a development comprised of nine rental units and shared community gardens, located two-and-a-half miles from Downtown Detroit.

True North / EC3 - Cityscape
© Jason Keen

It has received international attention for pioneering creative affordable design attuned to both its context and community, as well as for catalyzing the redevelopment of a long-neglected area.

True North / EC3 - Windows, Facade, Arch, Beam
© Jason Keen

For aesthetic and economic reasons, the client challenged EC3 to utilize Quonset Huts, a prefabricated lightweight structure consisting of corrugated galvanized steel and having a semicircular cross section.

True North / EC3 - Beam, Arch, Arcade
© Chris Miele
Section 02
True North / EC3 - Image 12 of 32
© Chris Miele

Edwin Chan, founder of the Los Angeles-based studio EC3 and former design partner at Gehry Partners, commented: “We tried to capture the beauty of Detroit’s toughness with the raw aesthetic in its design, while creating an inviting place for the neighborhood.”

True North / EC3 - Cityscape, Facade
© Jason Keen

Open to the neighborhood and without fencing, the strategic placement of the huts is driven by a need for openness and security, views and privacy, socializing and solitude, leaving the community accessible from the street via three pathways.

True North / EC3 - Facade
© Chris Miele
Zone Diagram
True North / EC3 - Countertop, Sink, Beam, Windows
© Jason Keen

Once inside the community, the pathways connect visitors to the eight huts (nine units total), communal gardens, thirty trees, and eight parking spots alongside the back alley.

True North / EC3 - Facade
© Chris Miele

Each structure is assembled on top of a four-inch concrete slab with in-floor radiant heat, which is also the units finished floor. The end walls feature custom steel framing around polycarbonate panels that provide a higher level of security, natural light and high thermal value.

True North / EC3 - Windows, Handrail
© Chris Miele

For the interiors EC3 worked with the client and collaborators to develop a variety of layouts for the units – sizes ranging from 475 to 1,600 square feet – to inspire different creative lifestyles. Most of the units also feature an interior polycarbonate “island” containing a kitchen, a bathroom, and a mechanical/storage closet. Above the island, a mezzanine platform provides occupants with a flex for any use, possibly a bedroom, workspace or storage.

True North / EC3 - Garden
© Chris Miele

True North recently won The Architect’s Newspaper’s 2017 Best of Design Award in the Multi-Unit Residential Category and won an honorable mention from Architect Magazine in the 2017 Progressive Architecture P/A Awards.

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Project location

Address:Detroit, MI, United States

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Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "True North / EC3" 20 Jan 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

© Chris Miele

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