Skyrocketing prices of London housing have become so unbearable that many have turned to less-than-ideal compromises. Large homes can be found but come with commutes of hours; places are still available in the city, but only for those with sky-high paychecks. Unable to balance their needs, people are resorting to workarounds that disrupt the existing urban fabric and dissatisfy all involved. Surely we can do better.
Affordable Housing: The Latest Architecture and News
Microsoft has unveiled plans to commit $500 million to advance affordable housing solutions across the city of Seattle, Washington. The money, to be distributed as loans and grants, will kick-start new solutions to the city’s housing crisis, where income increases have lagged behind rising housing prices.
The investment breaks down as $225 million committed to subsidize middle-income housing construction in six targeted cities, $250 million to support low-income housing across the King County region, and $25 million to philanthropic grants to address homelessness in the greater Seattle region. The tech giant has targeted the region in close proximity to the site of its Redmond headquarters expansion, expected to accommodate 8,000 new employees.
Disruptive Design is a three-part design competition that seeks to address the challenges associated with designing and building affordable, owner-occupied housing.
Architects, designers, students, and those invested in urban development are invited to submit their speculative ideas for an owner-occupied housing development incorporating a flexible architectural solution that encourages wealth-building through homeownership and entrepreneurship. The competition will conclude with an occupant/buyer-ready prototype of the winning design.
The desire for affordable housing is present in both the gentrifying and underserved Chicago neighborhoods. In gentrifying areas, land values rise with desirability; in underserved areas, depreciated property and land values produce an appraisal
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have decided to move forward with a plan to reuse L.A. General Hospital as affordable housing for high-need populations. The plan aims to provide homeless residents and low-income tenants with new living units inside the 1930s-era hospital. The board approved a motion to study the feasibility of reusing the structure and to craft a strategic plan that would bring the project to life. As the “birthplace of emergency medicine,” the Art Deco–style building includes 1.5-million-square-feet of space that could be used for the housing project.
Editor's Note: This story was originally published 27 March 2018. It was recently announced that ICON, the construction company leading the project, has successfully raised $9 million in seed funding for the project. A new video of the project is included below.
Tech gets a bad rap for serving developed economies in the interest of money-making. It often takes a few cycles for the technologies that are truly helpful to reach the developing world, hence the unfortunate, slow-draining term called the “trickle effect.”
HIR Studio Transforms a Hong Kong Housing Complex Into a Commemorative Relic for Architect Michael Wright
Plans for a memorial commemorating the life and career of Mr. Michael Wright, architect, surveyor, and civil servant, have been released. Mr. Wright’s dedication to the architecture of public housing in Hong Kong and the principals on which he designed are encapsulated in the memorial’s proposed scheme. Wright died in January 2018 at the age of 105 and is considered the "father of public housing in Hong Kong" for redefining the city's standards for public living quarters.
The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) celebrates transformative urban places distinguished by their economic and social contributions to our nation’s cities. Winners offer creative placemaking solutions that transcend the boundaries between architecture, urban design and planning and showcase innovative thinking about American cities. One Gold Medal of $50,000 and four Silver Medals of $10,000 will be awarded.
OOPEAA, working in collaboration with Lundén Architecture Company, has won a design and build competition for a timber housing development in Kivistö, Vantaa in the Helsinki metropolitan area of Finland. Organized by the City of Vantaa, the competition asked entrants to design a district of wooden housing, part of a commitment “to provide climate-conscious development in housing.”
Titled “Upstairs – Downstairs, Living Together on Three Levels,” the OOPEAA and Lundén scheme will form part of the broader sustainable district, creating a link between natural forest, active streets, and railway infrastructure.
Building Trust International has announced the winner of the organization’s 2018 Affordable Housing Design Challenge. Over 3,000 architects, designers, and engineers entered the competition and 400 design proposals were submitted. Each design sought to provide sustainable, safe, and secure affordable housing schemes that specifically target the needs of low income workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
A jury composed of representatives from Building Trust International, The United Nations Development Program, and the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone selected ‘atArchitecture’ as the challenge winner. Citing the feasibility of the architectural design and the scheme’s careful consideration of Cambodia’s natural environment, the jury saw the design as an optimal solution to a complex, local problem. With over 17,000 factory workers in the region, there are few options for high quality affordable homes. This forces many of these workers and their families to settle for short term rentals with less than adequate conditions and minimal security. These options are often shared spaces that only increase in demand as the number of workers continues to rise in the area.
On May 18-19, the city of Kaliningrad, capital of the westernmost part of Russia, will host the Living Environment: All About Housing Forum. The Forum includes a business program and the Urban Weekend outdoor public festival.
Besides sessions and roundtables, the ambitious program of the event includes the shortlist presentation of the projects submitted for the Open International Competition of Architectural Concepts for Standard Housing and Residential Buildings. Architects and bureaus from 39 countries took part in this prestigious competition with their projects of innovative residential housing for future generations of Russians. The competition announces a remarkable prize fund: 20 finalists will receive 1 million roubles (about € 13 300) each, up to five winning projects will be awarded 2 million roubles (about € 26 600) each, and up to five runners-up will receive 1.5 million roubles (about € 19 900) each.
Adjaye Associates Among Team of Britain's Top Designers Commissioned by Startup to Help Solve the UK's Housing Crisis
A new property startup named Cube Haus is looking to alter the existing housing market, offering high-value homes at reasonable prices "that can be configured to fit small and awkward urban sites." To do this, Cube Haus is commissioning a team of Britain's top architects and designers: Adjaye Associates, Faye Toogood, Carl Turner Architects and Skene Catling de la Peña. The team will create a series of customizable modular homes with a focus on outstanding design.
This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Architecture, Aesthetic Moralism, and the Crisis of Urban Housing."
It may shock some people to hear this, but architecture is not urban planning. It is not transportation planning, sociology, political science, or critical geography. However, architecture, new-build apartment architecture specifically, has become a social media scapegoat for today’s urban housing crisis: escalating developer-driven gentrification.
Out of my own curiosity, I searched several academic databases for research that successfully correlates the architectural aesthetic of new build apartments with gentrification. While many writers and denizens of social media really want to blame today’s bland, boxy, cladding-driven style of multifamily urban housing for gentrification, I’m afraid the research isn’t there. In fact, one study featured in a paper on neighborhood early warning systems for gentrification cites historic architecture as one of five predictors of gentrification in the DC area.
The dream of universal affordable housing has been an idea tried and tested by architects throughout history. From the wacky Dymaxion House by Buckminster Fuller, an imagining of how we would live in the future, to mail-order houses able to be assembled like IKEA furniture, many proposals have tackled the challenge of creating affordable housing or dwellings which could be replicated no matter the time and place. However, although their use of techniques such as pre-fabrication and cheap materials seemed, in theory, to be able to solve pressing issues of homelessness and the global housing crisis, time and time again these proposals have simply failed to take off. But why?
IKEA’s research lab SPACE10 is attempting to find an answer to this question through open-source collaboration. By releasing their design of a micro-house that used only one material and one machine to make it and an accompanying website that catalogs the process and invites feedback, they are inviting architects, designers, and aspiring home-owners to work together in creating a solution which could improve the lives of millions. “The vision,” they say, “is that by leveraging the world’s collective creativity and expertise, we can make low-cost, sustainable and modular houses available to anyone and, as a result, democratize the homes of tomorrow.”
Bee Breeders has announced the winners of the recent Sydney Affordable Housing Challenge. The international architecture competition asked entrants to address the growing affordable housing crisis in Sydney. The challenge aimed at "garnering global attention to the important issue of housing in Sydney, Australia, where the economy is strong but the residential market is among the least affordable, according to surveys of major metropolitan markets."
Humphreys and Partners, a Dallas-based architecture firm, presented a vision of future residential living at the 2018 International Builders’ Show earlier this year. Tackling current issues of affordable housing, sustainable design and how technology is changing the way we live, their futuristic vision Pier 2: Apartment of the Future consists of two soaring skyscrapers on the Manhattan waterfront.
The State of California is (Finally) Forcing Through Affordable Housing Laws, Overruling Municipal NIMBYism
This article was originally published by The Architect's Newspaper as "A wave of affordable and market-rate housing could soon wash ashore in California."
In recent months, legislators in California have begun a concerted effort to use state law to address the state’s ongoing housing crisis. The moves come amid worsening regional inequality that has pushed housing affordability outside the reach of many populations. Facing mounting pressure from a growing cohort of pro-housing YIMBY activists and increasingly grim economic and social impacts—including a sharp increase in the number of rent-burdened households and the number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness—state-level legislators have begun to take action where municipal leaders have thus far stopped short.
20 finalists have been announced for the Open International Competition for Standard Housing in Russia. With the plan to provide 30 million Russian residents with new homes by 2025, the competition aims to discover new innovative solutions to improve residential design and planning for the new developments. The competition was organized by the Government of Russian Federation, the National Institute for Housing Development Foundation, and the Russian Ministry of Construction working together to create a new standard for affordable housing.
This article was originally published by Common Edge as "John King on San Francisco, Oakland, and the Challenge of Affordable Housing."
John King has covered the urban design beat for the San Francisco Chronicle for 17 years now. That’s long enough, in other words, to have written about a handful of economic booms and subsequent busts. But the Bay Area is a unique beast. No other region in the country has been as thoroughly transformed by the digital revolution. And it’s a transformation that continues to this day. Shortly before the New Year, I spoke to King about the fate of San Francisco, the Oakland renaissance, and his 4-month long fellowship in Washington, DC.