Fast Company's design blog features a new answer to an old query: how do cities create space without sprawl as they keep growing? The example they highlight is architecture firm in Situ Studio's petite modular housing concept for Raleigh, NC. What's different is where they are finding the space.
Infill housing is not new, however Raleigh's take on infill housing is about to be very renewed. Raleigh's older neighborhoods are blessed with a particularly interesting asset: alleyways between homes that have not been needed since the city sewer system eliminated the need to access outhouses via back alleys decades ago. Proposed zoning changes will enable turing those spaces into micro-lots. In Situ Studio's entry for Building Trust International's HOME competition is just one way that the market is responding to the potential for filling those new lots.
The call for small affordable housing to meet the needs of young, growing workforces was also in the news last month when San Francisco looked at changing zoning to allow for 220 sqft "micro-apartments," a significant cut on today's 290 sqft minimum.
The common thread in both stories is that when city zoning leads the way, creative and even beautiful designs will follow. And I have no doubt that the market will quickly consume these tapas-style homes. Living little is much more possible in this day of wafer-thing TVs, bookshelves compacted into Kindles, and music collections that live in the cloud. Add to that the new work-meets-home styles of offices that are de rigeur for high tech start ups: kitchens with communal tables, conference rooms with whiteboard walls that any kid with crayons would crave, and lounging areas where hard work meets soft surfaces. As the new work-life balance hits home, housing is being redefined by more than just zoning laws.
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