An open international competition has been launched for a prototype 2.9ha affordable housing development on the fringes of Atlanta, Georgia, USA (Deadline: 30 October)
Open to everyone, the anonymous competition seeks innovative proposals to redevelop the Santa Fe Villas motel and abandoned neighbouring Town and Country Hotel Courts on the city’s Metropolitan Parkway Southwest thoroughfare.
The project, backed by the City of Atlanta Department of City Planning, aims to identify new affordable housing solutions for under-developed commercial corridors in Atlanta and in other rapidly-growing settlements throughout North America.
Town and Country Hotel Courts
According to the brief: ‘As a representative example of many North American cities, Atlanta’s metropolitan population is expected to grow by 2.5 million residents in the next 20 years.
‘In response to this anticipated growth, the domestiCITY design competition has been organized to explore best practices for the design and construction of affordable housing specific to the city of Atlanta, Georgia: these best practices might then be extrapolated for implementation in other urban environments.’
Atlanta is the capital of Georgia and with 5.7 million inhabitants the ninth most populated metropolitan area in the United States. Atlanta is a major transport and commercial and home to world’s busiest airport.
Like many cities across the US, which has witnessed huge rural-to-urban migration and population growth in recent decades, Atlanta suffers from a severe shortage of housing especially for those on lower incomes.
The competition focuses on two neighbouring sites on Metropolitan Parkway Southwest known as Santa Fe Villas and the Town and Country Hotel Courts. Nearby residential neighbourhoods include Jefferson Park, Hammond Park, River Park and Sylvan Hills.
Santa Fe Villas was constructed in the 1960s as a motel and today features 147 bedsit units for low-income people working in the local area. The 1.6h site is owned by Atlanta’s not-for-profit Urban Residential Development Corporation.
Santa Fe Villas
The neighbouring Town and Country Hotel Courts is an abandoned building first constructed in the 1940s and recently squatted. The sites are around eight kilometres south of downtown Atlanta and eight kilometres north of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The competition seeks innovative proposals for both sites which ‘balance the financial and spatial challenges of development in heavily populated areas with the social and economic needs of existing and future communities.’
Anonymous submissions must include a site plan and conceptual proposals for individual buildings. Proposals will be expected to consider economic feasibility, architectural innovation, architectural programming and project replicability.
The overall winner will receive a $20,000 prize and $30,000 to further develop their design ahead of negotiations the City of Atlanta over project delivery. Four runner-up prizes worth $20,000 each will also be awarded along with a $20,000 architectural innovation award.
How to apply
The deadline for applications is 30 October
Visit the competition website for more information
The Collective Old Oak Common case study: Q&A with Andrei Martin
The partner at PLP Architecture discusses lessons learned designing an innovative affordable housing scheme for young professionals in west London
How did your project deliver a new innovative affordable housing development for west London?
The Collective Old Oak is the world’s largest co-living space. At its core, it tackles the evolving nature of living in the city by establishing an environment that foregrounds and privileges shared experience over personal belongings and private space. The project is designed to create a sense of community, where individuals occupy relatively small units but enjoy a wealth of communal facilities that set up the opportunity for people to encounter each other and socialiSe. The nature of these social spaces, their layout and distribution throughout the building is perhaps the most important consideration of the project.
The Collective Old Oak Common by PLP
Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?
Besides the residential spaces, the project includes co-working environments, eating establishments and a whole series of diverse communal and amenity spaces. Diagramming the synergy between these components was crucial to how we’re able to engage with both our client as well as the various constituencies and communities involved in the design process. Similarly, capturing the multiplicity of moods and diverse atmospheres engendered by these various spaces was very important to illustrate. We did so in a variety of mediums from collages and renderings to physical models and VR.
The Collective Old Oak Common by PLP
What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a groundbreaking affordable housing project for Atlanta?
The way we live in the city has fundamentally changed. Today experience trumps space, and this opens up an entire new territory for exploration in how residential spaces, and particularly affordable homes, are conceived. Residential buildings are no longer single-use, but rather they increasingly work as three-dimensional spaces that aggregate multiple uses to encourage circulation, interaction and encounters. A careful programming of this sometimes surprising and enriching content can make for architecture of unusual possibilities and can spawn unprecedented hybrid typologies. If this architecture can also manage to resonate with and amplify the unique culture of its location, its contribution will be meaningful, transformative and lasting.
The Collective Old Oak Common by PLP
Q&A with Tim Keane
The Atlanta Department of City Planning commissioner discusses his ambitions for the contest
Why are your holding a competition for new affordable housing in a heavily populated area of Atlanta?
The City of Atlanta population is projected to grow by 1.2MM in the next 20 years. In anticipation of this growth, we must be considerate of our City’s housing and income mix. Increasing land and construction costs coupled with ever-high demand for quality, affordable housing means we need innovative solutions from the local, national, and international design community. We shouldn’t come up with the solution ourselves in a silo; and we know affordable housing is an international challenge, so it’s critical our judges choose from a range of international proposals.
What is your vision for the new development?
Architectural innovation and quality are at the forefront of this competition. We purposefully avoided setting explicit design requirements so to not limit the vision for the designer. Atlanta lacks innovative ways to design affordable housing units. This competition is about challenging the design community to come up with a prototype for affordable housing that serves the needs of our most vulnerable populations, is resilient, and balances real world financial constraints. In total, the competition site is approximately 7 acres and provides an opportunity for competition contestants to address affordable housing in the form of new construction, infill, and rehabilitation or adaptive reuse of existing buildings.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
As an international competition, we hope to attract the brightest design minds, big name or small. What sets this competition apart from other design competitions is the fact that we are trying to tackle an universal issue: affordable housing. Architects and designers will need to be able to couple their visions with a pro-forma/feasibility analysis. Top designs will be exhibited at a competition showcase in early 2018 and designers have the potential to set design principles for the future of affordable housing.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
The Department of City Planning recently launched the Atlanta City Design (www.atlcitydesign.com), a guiding document for the City of Atlanta. Its purpose is to articulate an aspiration for the future city that Atlantans can fall in love with, knowing that if people love their city, they will make better decisions about it. These decisions, then, will be reflected in all the plans, policies, and investments the city makes, allowing Dr. King’s concept of the Beloved Community to guide growth and transform Atlanta into the best possible version of itself. Look for future planning, design, and development opportunities to align with Atlanta City Design.
Are there any other innovative affordable housing projects you have been impressed by?
A good example of an innovative project is the Mechanicsville scatter-site pilot right here in the City of Atlanta (developed by Columbia Residential). Aside from projects, we also look to innovative housing policy for inspiration. The Department of City planning is conducting a Housing Needs Assessment to understand inventory, needs, and long term goals. Additionally, the City is proposing an inclusionary zoning policy to address the issue of affordable housing in high demand areas. These types of policies and practices employed elsewhere in the U.S. help inspire and stimulate innovative actions in the City of Atlanta.