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NYC Affordable Housing

In Collaboration with Tianhui Hou and Miao Zhang 

© Commons Office, 2019

This project is designed as an urban infill housing project with a focus on better living quality, housing adaptability and positive social influence. The project provides tenants not only a daily dwelling space but also a practical idea for creating social communal spaces within typical small lots in New York City. The project proposes a way of organizing the circulation within the apartment that is different from typical Bronx stone town houses surrounding the context. By expanding the circulation to linear “Z” shape, the stairs are not only designed as a circulation space but also as a social space that allows tenants’ interaction to occurr. Six units are linked with this continuous stairs starting from the streetscape all the way to the roof top. Along such exterior stairs case, three types of shared communal spaces are inserted. Reading room, laundry space and rooftop entertainment space are arranged accordingly. In the units, the design strategy intends to maximize daylight access while maintaining certain privacy and affordability. Corrugated semi-transparency louver facade is applied on the front façade of the architecture. This layer provides controllable privacy, ventilation and efficient cost. First floor is designed with easy access especially for disabled people. Lowering the entrance staircase gives an easier transition from street to building and transforms the staircase into a quality social space.

This design prototype addresses three types of urban site:

Type 1: “Shallow”

The “shallow” type provides a replicable type that can be applied onto different sites. The “shallow” lot requires a wider width building with shorter length. By doubling the type of 17’ x 70’ lot prototype in the width, this type adapts the idea of public circulation and stairs and integrates with 10 units types. In addition, the wider façade allows more natural lights and better ventilation and can be adapted onto a variety of sites.


Type 2: “Attached Corner”

The “attached corner” type requires the prototype building to be able to address the relation between the street interaction and circulations. By employing the 17’ x 70’ type and stacking them with setbacks, it, first, allows the spatial logic to govern the organization of the building circulations and layout. It also creates a “setback” space at the corner that provides a variety possibility of urban public spaces and programs.


Type 3: “Detached”

The “detached” type demands the 17’ x 70’ type to be able to address the circulation in the longitude direction. Given the location of most “detached” lots, the circulation can be adapted onto one side of the building and allows every unit of the building to have a better view of the city and access to balcony. This type also provides new possibility to frame the city scape and its suburbs.

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