Vinegar Hill Affordable Housing

2016 National DiscoverDesign Competition: Design an affordable housing prototype

Define the Problem

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New York City is currently suffering from a massive affordable housing crisis. Fortunately for the city, it is a high priority for both the mayor and many designers, architects, and urban planners across the nation. Through this project I will work to create an affordable house for Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn, New York City, New York.

Collect Info

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Since I do not live in New York City and have only been there once, I contacted an Urban Planner by the name of Mitchel Loring (who currently lives in the city) to help me explore my options and understand New York a little better. He directed me towards several of the city's websites where I could find current housing projects and lists of neighborhoods to work with. Mr. Loring also shared personal testimonies of what it is like to live in New York City and how it is different from living in Kansas. Something else he suggested was that I take screenshots of the current are on Google Maps Street View. I used all of this, as well as the HAI Metropolitan Index to guide my way through the beginning stages of this project.

Brainstorm Ideas

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I went through several ideas during this step. I started with thinking about Tiny Houses because they are a huge social movement right now, but they do not fit with this area. I then moved onto single family homes, but I decided that was a waste of limited space. I finally decided on a multi level apartment building. My brainstorm drafts are not to scale, they are just rough sketches.

Develop Solutions

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Since I had chosen to move on with the multi level apartment building, my first question was how many floors tall should it be? The answer is simple, three. Three gives enough room to fit up to four families plus a couple with no children or a single adult. Anything taller than three stories starts to lose that home feeling in this neighborhood because three levels is the average size of buildings in Vinegar Hill.

Final Design

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My final design is a 3-D rendering of my ideas in my develop solutions stage. They are the same for the most part with the minor exception of an added accessible roof to allow a greenhouse or garden space for all the residents to take care of and enjoy. I also decided that to keep costs down one could simply renovate the surrounding buildings to follow the design model shown below with alterations necessary for different building types.