designing practice

As part of my Master of Architecture degree, I designed an alternative practice model for my thesis project.  The practice combines a desire to positively affect the affordable housing crisis with speculation on the impact of incorporating emerging technologies and alternative ownership models.

The practice combines a desire to positively affect the affordable housing crisis with speculation on the impact of incorporating emerging technologies and alternative ownership models.

Connecting

Future residents connect through digital tools to form a team.  The specifics of this process are likely to adjust over time, but initially the matching is loosely based on the online dating process with surveys, profiles, and chat functions.  It is important to foster neighborly attitudes early because the ownership model is cooperative housing with shared goals, amenities, and maintenance program.

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Connections start online, becoming strong neighborly relationships over time.

Planning

Cooperative ownership allows for a variety of strategies to either save or share costs for affordable home ownership.  Here are just a few possible strategies:

  1. Co-owner teams may choose to reduce the size of individual units, opting instead for larger shared amenity spaces.  This would reduce the per-owner cost.
  2. In medium to high density neighborhoods, teams should plan for lease-able retail, restaurant and/or office spaces to provide long term income to the cooperative.  Funding the long term maintenance costs of the project through rental income is another strategy to allow owners to plan for lower retirement incomes.
  3. Owners could choose to plan for an apartment for an in-home caretaker, allowing them to share this cost and age in place much longer than they might be able to in a more traditional living situation.

Cooperative ownership allows for a variety of strategies to either save or share costs for affordable home ownership.

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Team planning activities are hosted in an online repository.

Designing

Each team’s project is unique, however some common elements will emerge over time.  The model units are intended as a starting point to help team members visualize their potential future living spaces.

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Model units establish a common starting point for designers and residents.

The design process is decentralized, but coordinated around an open source tool kit.  The kit is intended for multiple teams to be at different stages of the process concurrently and continuously contributing the the evolution of the base model units and design recommendations.  This theoretical practice partners with local architects who use and contribute to the open source toolkit.

The design process is decentralized, but coordinated around an open source tool kit. 

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Diagram of a theoretical open source architecture workflow.

Open source processes are more familiar to code developers than Architects. But, as can be seen with Linux, the collective can be a powerful method of constant improvement.  This collective action is fostered by the theoretical practice to achieve the best possible outcomes for the residents.

Building

The building process is also improved by collaborative open source design framework, leveraging lessons learned on prior projects for cost and time savings.  Specifics were beyond the scope of the thesis project, however there is significant opportunity to leverage prefabrication and emerging building technology.

Cooperative housing models can help with both affordability and community, enriching the lives of the residents.

Living

Most importantly for the residents, the cooperative housing model and collaborative design process help foster relationships.  Older residents avoid the loneliness that plagues their counterparts in single family homes.  Young families gain the ‘village’ of adopted uncles, aunts, and grandparents to help raise the children.  Community is an integral part of being human.  Cooperative housing models can help with both affordability and community, enriching the lives of the residents.

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This is a broad overview of the concepts in my thesis document, published about 8 months ago.  The project is currently dormant, however, I hope to revive it in the future.  Thanks for your interest.

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