“ULX: The Art of Affordable Housing
By Ron Nyren. March 15, 2012
Ten affordable housing developments take creative design approaches to providing appealing environments while controlling costs.
Affordable housing does not have to look like plain boxes. Though tight budgets may restrict options for materials, architects have found ways to add variety, mixing exterior textures and colors, breaking up massing, and integrating art into the architecture. Careful siting leaves room for generous outdoor open spaces—whether landscaped courtyards or public plazas—that provide places for residents to get to know each other or enjoy a respite from life in the city.
All completed in the past five years, the following ten projects (listed alphabetically) exemplify levels of design more typically found in market-rate housing. A number incorporate sustainable design strategies that reduce energy and water use—crucial whether the tenant or the owner/operator pays the utility bills.
When people move out of traditional housing into seniors’ residential complexes, they risk becoming isolated from the larger community. To encourage continued cross-generational interactions, local nonprofit developer Bridge Housing and local firm David Baker + Partners Architects teamed up to transform a former industrial site in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, building affordable apartments for seniors as well as a complex of for-sale townhouses next door available to families. The 124 townhouses are stacked around a large public courtyard that includes vegetable gardens; bioswales help manage stormwater runoff.
The four stories of seniors’ apartments above ground-level retail are connected to the family townhouses by a landscaped mews. They also have their own central courtyard. To reference the historically African American neighborhood, the architects patterned the exterior paint scheme and window placement after traditional African textiles. A wall inset of Ashanti tribal symbols rings the courtyard. The 116 apartments are earmarked for seniors earning less than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), while the townhouses are intended for households earning 60 to 100 percent of AMI. Both portions were completed in 2010.”
Via: Urban Land