Social Housing and Settlements: Potential Promoters of Community Living

Social Housing and Settlements: Potential Promoters of Community Living

© Carlina TeterisCourtesy of SANAA© David Boureau© James Brittain Photography+ 12

When considering “How Will We Live Together”, it is important to note the projective and future tense of the phrase. The idea not only encompasses ways we already share our built environment but targets the anticipated issues that are to be tackled to facilitate communal and mutually beneficial ways of living.

When looking at what is to come, despite the most recent health concerns, economic disparities, and environmental and social calamities the world is still heading towards dense urbanization with more people moving to cities and requiring safe and healthy housing, which is not always easy to come by. In fact, a recent UN report suggested that “nearly one-quarter of the world’s urban population lives in informal settlements or encampments, most in developing countries but increasingly also in the most affluent. Living conditions are shocking and intolerable. Residents often live without water and sanitation, and are in constant fear of eviction.”

However, if these same settlement spaces are well-conceived and provide dignified living conditions, they can surely promote the development of close-knitted communities among individuals from different regions and backgrounds who were joined by similar aspirations and desire for growth. It is therefore important for architects and designers to consider and suggest settlement interventions and social housing projects that offer healthy personal and common spaces.


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© Ricardo Oliveira Alves
© Ricardo Oliveira Alves

Below are a few examples of projects that are bringing people together and suggest practical ways of communal and cooperative living, be it through shared space usage (kitchens, halls, courtyards…) or activities engagement and maintenance of the complex (gardening, cooking), all providing opportunities for displaced, disfavored, economically challenged populations to help each other.

Shelter for Migrants and Travelers / Atelier RITA

© David Boureau
© David Boureau

The emergency engage to essential architecture. The first question is: How to offer dignity and functional qualities to a vulnerable population, with different cultures? The project is thought like a little town, a common notion of « habiter » regardless of geographic origin. Between public space and the most intimate space, everyone easily accommodates with a life in community.

Expandable House Part 02 / Urban Rural Systems

© Carlina Teteris
© Carlina Teteris

The expandable house (rumah tambah in Bahasa Indonesia, or rubah for short) offers affordable and sustainable dwelling options to the rapidly growing populations of Asia’s largest cities. Combining lessons from existing informal settlements, incremental housing precedents and principles of sustainable tropical building, the expandable house is designed to adapt to the fluctuating patterns of resource consumption and expenditure, or metabolism, of its residents.

Pemulung House / IBUKU

Courtesy of IBUKU
Courtesy of IBUKU

To improve this image, IBUKU was commissioned by a large company to develop a project that would create healthy, well organized housing compounds for garbage collectors while becoming a mean for social transformation.

SOS Children's Village In Djibouti - Urko Sanchez Architects

© Javier Callejas
© Javier Callejas

A -  It is a medina for children – A safe environment, with no cars, where the narrow streets and squares become places to play

B - It is a medina with plenty of open spaces – Public and private spaces are clearly defined. And in the private, the inside and outside areas melt, allowing residents to maintain certain outdoors living.

C - It is a medina with lots of vegetation – Where the inhabitants are encouraged to take care of their plants and benefit from the result.

The AYA Housing / Studio Twenty Seven Architecture + Leo A Daly JV

© Hoachlander Davis Photography
© Hoachlander Davis Photography

Care is taken to organize separate entrances to the Health Clinic and Short Term Family Housing on different faces of the building. The building is intended to complement the developing SW skyline while creating an optimal living experience for the tenants with natural lighting and views out to the city.

White Clouds / POGGI & MORE architecture

© Javier Callejas
© Javier Callejas

A new social housing project in Saintes has totally reinvented what living together means. A seemingly inhabited cloud effortlessly signals the entrance to a recently rehabilitated working-class neighbourhood, known as ‘Les Boiffiers’, dating back to the 1970s.

Centre Village / 5468796 Architecture + Cohlmeyer Architecture Limited

© James Brittain Photography
© James Brittain Photography

Serving underprivileged families, Winnipeg’s Centre Village housing cooperative utilizes design to help revitalize a neglected inner-city neighbourhood and to provide its residents with a unique setting that inspires pride and encourages community-building.

Apartments on Ave. Maréchal Fayolle / SANAA

Courtesy of SANAA
Courtesy of SANAA

There is an inherent dynamism to the distribution of buildings: the courtyards appear to open and close as you walk through them, establishing an open dialogue between communities.

Social Complex in Alcabideche / Guedes Cruz Arquitectos

© Ricardo Oliveira Alves
© Ricardo Oliveira Alves

The central building, within the same modelling and principles, contains all of the common services necessary for proper functioning and quality of living.

Bogerse Velden Social Housing / META architectuurbureau

© Filip Dujardin
© Filip Dujardin

The repetitions not only create rhythm in the streetscape, thereby enhancing clarity and recognisability, but also forge a collective identity.

Note: The quoted texts are excerpts from the archived descriptions of each project, previously sent by the architects. Find more reference projects in this My ArchDaily folder created by the author.

This article is part of the ArchDaily Topic: How Will We Live Together. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our monthly topics here. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.


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About this author
Cite: Hana Abdel. "Social Housing and Settlements: Potential Promoters of Community Living" 22 Aug 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/945715/social-housing-and-settlements-potential-promoters-of-community-living> ISSN 0719-8884
© Filip Dujardin

社会福利住房,潜在的社区生活发展推动因素

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