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2016 National DiscoverDesign Competition - Affordable housing in salt lake city, utah

2016 National DiscoverDesign Competition: Design an affordable housing prototype

Define the Problem

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In the United States “affordable housing” is defined as housing that is affordable to the median household income. In all of the United States, it is estimated that 12 million renter and homeowner households pay more than 50% of their annual incomes for their housing. Currently, the lack of affordable housing is causing serious consequences for low-income households. In fact, not one country in the US is able to fulfill 100% of its low-income population’s needs for affordable housing. As a result, many households are experiencing severe rent burdens. Because of this, architects, urban planners and designers are currently trying to increase the amount of affordable housing available to improve the daily lives, happiness, and overall health of US citizens. Moving on, Affordable housing has many advantages to its surrounding community and citizens. For one, affordable housing creates diversity by establishing communities with a mix of cultures, ages and socio-economic circumstances. As a result, the diversity of people creates a diversity in development of unique restaurants, shops and recreational venues. Furthermore, stable housing is vital for people’s health, as children who come from stable households are more likely to succeed academically and socially. Additionally, affordable housing closer to downtown areas positively affects the environment, as transportation time decreases and so does pollution. Most importantly, affordable housing allows families to live in a vibrant community with many opportunities surrounding them. Therefore, it’s extremely important that architects, designers and urban planners come together to find a creative solution for the lack of affordable housing.

My proposed affordable housing will be located near the downtown area of Salt Lake City, Utah. I will create a functional space where a family of four will be able to live safely and cohesively in their surrounding community. In the affordable housing, there will be enough space for everybody to do their everyday activities (sleeping, cooking, showering, etc.) Also, there will be a communal area (living room), to promote interaction within the family which will result in happier households. I also want to create a patio where the house owners and children can socialize and spend time outdoors. This will open more opportunities for social gatherings and communication, as families can interact with people. Additionally, I want to create an environment that is safe and family friendly, where people who were previously struggling with affordable housing can now reside and get involved with their surrounding community. The proposed affordable housing will be located in a neighborhood near public transportation, nearby schools, and recreational venues such as parks. This will help to encourage people to spend more time outdoors and admire the beauty around them. Overall, the addition of affordable housing and promotion of neighbor interaction will result in a happier and healthier city.

Collect Info

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When selecting a location to create an affordable housing prototype in, I felt it was important to choose a city that has greatly been impacted by the lack of affordable housing. Having affordable housing is crucial to maintain household stability, economic security and overall health of citizens. I came across a new report by the Downtown Salt Lake City Alliance suggesting that the city lacks the necessary affordable housing for young and low-income workers. This inspired me to creatively solve the ongoing insufficiency of affordable housing in Salt Lake City, Utah, while taking into consideration the location, population, average income and other local information. The site I chose meets many of the criteria I had defined. Firstly, it’s near the downtown area of Salt Lake City and is located in a popular residential area. Secondly, it’s also very close to public transportation, schools, parks and other recreational venues. Lastly, because the housing will be close to the downtown area, families will not have to commute to the city and therefore will decrease the pollution in the environment. Therefore, this addition of affordable housing will help middle income families get the home they deserve, will decrease pollution and create a healthier city.

Brainstorm Ideas

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By taking inspiration from the Baugruppen in Germany, I started to sketch different ideas for the proposed affordable housing. In order to ensure that my design is successful, it is necessary that I develop sketches to show my ideas for the possible layout of the affordable housing. I need to consider the flexibility and feel of the space I design, as well as how functional it is for a family of four. Therefore, mapping out my ideas will help me find a way to design a three bedroom, three bathroom affordable housing unit that includes a front and back porch, backyard, living room, kitchen and dining area, that is spacious and provides privacy for all of the family members. The "Brainstorming Ideas" section will show my thought process and trial and error in order to start developing a solution.

Develop Solutions

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After sketching out my ideas and using SketchUp to help visualize and refine the housing unit, I then started creating the whole affordable housing unit. In SketchUp I was able to get an idea of the scale and envision the space as a whole. It helped me see what looked good and what didn’t, and also helped me with creating a flow to the house. Since the housing unit is quite small, it’s important that an architect is able to create a comfortable and spacious feeling in the environment no matter what the size. Furthermore, all of the furniture used in the model (not including the bathrooms) are replicas of furniture from IKEA. I chose to use IKEA replicas because IKEA has affordable furniture that looks very simple and modern. I know this from personal experience as my brother furnished his apartment with IKEA furniture on a very tight budget. This being said, overall the process on SketchUp allowed me to develop affordable housing units accessible to the median income household as well as create a friendly and interactive community in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Final Design

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Once I had finished creating the affordable housing unit on sketchup, I imported my model into a rendering software called Lumion. I’m very happy with my final design and truly believe it is an effective affordable housing unit for the median household income in Salt Lake City, Utah. The outside of the house is very vibrant and appealing with bright colors and landscaping. A detached garage was included in the design and has enough space for one car. Moving on, the first floor consists of the open living room, dining room, kitchen as well as the master bedroom and bathroom. Upstairs, there are two bedrooms, (one can hold two people while the other room can fit one person), a shared bathroom and a laundry room. Overall this housing unit has 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms to comfortably fit a family of four. There are also many aspects of the house that I implemented in order to improve the overall mood. For example, in the kitchen I decided to add a colorful backsplash to make the space more vibrant and fun. I also kept windows throughout the house because I believe it’s very important, especially in a smaller sized house, to have more windows to make the space feel larger. Furthermore, I also think windows are essential for keeping a connection with nature outside and inside of the house. Additionally, the housing unit was created to have an open floor plan to encourage families to hold social gatherings and to promote community interaction. The open living/dining/kitchen area is perfect for gatherings as everybody can socialize from all over the room. The house also has a great size backyard where families with children and pets can spend time outdoors and even hold gatherings outside too. This house gives families easy access to affordability and has many advantages. For one, it’s very close to downtown (less than a ten minute drive) and opens opportunities for the household as well as decreases pollution. Secondly, the neighbourhood is very close to libraries, schools, parks and other recreational venues where the households can go to socialize and interact with their surrounding community. Lastly, the housing will also help the image and look of the neighbourhood. Instead of having a large empty lot across from the other houses, the lot can be filled with vibrant and happy families in beautiful homes for an affordable cost. Note: Many of the objects used in both the SketchUp and Lumion model are replicas of furniture from Ikea. Also, after rendering the project, I noticed the windows on the second floor, left side of the building were not leveled with each other. During the construction process, a change order could be made by the general contractor to fix this issue with the architect's approval.

Comments

trevor.w 8 months ago
Hey MEEJANDESIGN! first off, I want to congratulate you, the visual presentation is absolutely phenomenal, and I think you've done a good job encompassing the beauty that housing can attain. There are a few concerns, but I think those can be easily overcame. One thing I really want to bring up is resale, it's absolutely critical that the home owners can receive near or over the amount they invested into the property. I feel it would be beneficial to add onto the exterior facade for this design. The facade sells the house, and ultimately affects the surrounding neighborhood's value. With some relatively cheap resources, I think the exterior could be absolutely attractive. The second thing I think is substantial the affordable housing is creating a design that includes open spaces to create a bigger feel. It would be advantageous to add onto the current space to create an even more appealing floor plan. psychologically, I think it would help improve the owner's lifestyle. Just some thoughts I had while reviewing the project. I think you've done a fantastic job, and I hope you keep up the good work! You're a talented architect and hopefully you will pursue your efforts ;D *Virtual high five
trevor.w 8 months ago
Hey MEEJANDESIGN! first off, I want to congratulate you, the visual presentation is absolutely phenomenal, and I think you've done a good job encompassing the beauty that housing can attain. There are a few concerns, but I think those can be easily overcame. One thing I really want to bring up is resale, it's absolutely critical that the home owners can receive near or over the amount they invested into the property. I feel it would be beneficial to add onto the exterior facade for this design. The facade sells the house, and ultimately affects the surrounding neighborhood's value. With some relatively cheap resources, I think the exterior could be absolutely attractive. The second thing I think is substantial the affordable housing is creating a design that includes open spaces to create a bigger feel. It would be advantageous to add onto the current space to create an even more appealing floor plan. psychologically, I think it would help improve the owner's lifestyle. Just some thoughts I had while reviewing the project. I think you've done a fantastic job, and I hope you keep up the good work! You're a talented architect and hopefully you will pursue your efforts ;D *Virtual high five
trevor.w 8 months ago
Hey MEEJANDESIGN! first off, I want to congratulate you, the visual presentation is absolutely phenomenal, and I think you've done a good job encompassing the beauty that housing can attain. There are a few concerns, but I think those can be easily overcame. One thing I really want to bring up is resale, it's absolutely critical that the home owners can receive near or over the amount they invested into the property. I feel it would be beneficial to add onto the exterior facade for this design. The facade sells the house, and ultimately affects the surrounding neighborhood's value. With some relatively cheap resources, I think the exterior could be absolutely attractive. The second thing I think is substantial the affordable housing is creating a design that includes open spaces to create a bigger feel. It would be advantageous to add onto the current space to create an even more appealing floor plan. psychologically, I think it would help improve the owner's lifestyle. Just some thoughts I had while reviewing the project. I think you've done a fantastic job, and I hope you keep up the good work! You're a talented architect and hopefully you will pursue your efforts ;D *Virtual high five
meejandesign trevor.w 8 months ago
Hahaha no problem! Thank you so much for your comments, I completely agree with what you've said! If we had more time for revision, the points you made, along with other aspects of the housing unit would definitely be improved in order to make the design more efficient. :-)
Competition Jury 8 months ago
Kerl Lajeune - I like your intention to detail and for choosing a material that you feel links the look to a feeling that people will get from being there. Not sure of the similar housing in the area to make the comparison but looks to be heading in the right direction.
Competition Jury 8 months ago
Maya Bird-Murphy - Great renderings and research. Great that you're thinking about modular units that can easily be repeated.
Competition Jury 8 months ago
Adam Rosa - Nice use of materials. Good process sketches. Is a cul-de-sac site where we should be locating affordable housing?
rojana 3 hours ago
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