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Architects Rethinking Housing for the 21st Century City

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[Click through for detailed captions on the proposals submitted by four architect teams. Images courtesy of the architects and Making Room NYC.]

It's not often that accessible, well-designed solutions for the masses make the paper of record twice in one week, but the future is here, y'all, and it's serious architecture for everyday use. We've extolled the virtues of newly-minted for-the-people archicritic Michael Kimmelman, who's the second Times scribe to devote ink to a recent conference asking several area architects to present new housing solutions to five city commissioners. The brief? Adapting housing regulations to catch up with changing economic, social, and residential patterns in a city as diverse as New York, using innovative design to consider what could be achieved with outdated codes thrown to the wayside. Above, we've renderings from those proposals, from a new SRO model in the Bronx to "barnacle" pods updating a Queens Tudor house.

First up, Deborah Gans, who proposed a plan of up to seven apartment pods clinging to a 4,000-square-foot house in Astoria, which "could house an evolving assortment of singles and families who might want to live together." Peter Gluck and collaborators envisioned a more dense version of a classic five-story walk-up comprising 20 micro-lofts, five per floor and 150 square feet each, that would share kitchens. Large windows would allow circulation but also privacy, as the building would be "extra close to the blank wall of the building next to it (another legal no-no)." The pair Rafi Segal and Stan Allen showed plans for three housing types around the city, from a retrofit of a 1960s office building to a low-rise building "in which prefabricated housing units would cluster around large light wells, with communal kitchens and shared bathrooms" which became known on the panel as "the urban kibbutz." The Kimmelfave? A mix of high-density, low-rent apartment buildings for the Grand Concourse in the Bronx designed by Manhattan-based architect Jonathan Kirschenfeld. Imagining the development as an "incubator for the city’s young work force" and fitting it into existing urban fabric with a mix of housing that combines "tiny apartments for singles and larger ones that can be shared and swapped by a shifting roster of families and unrelated groups, a kind of S.R.O. redux."

To all this we say, here's to bright ideas and receptive planning commissions. And perhaps a collective knife-sheathing from the Twitter armchair critics.
· Imagining New Housing Models for a Changed New York [New York Times]
· Rethinking Ways to Divide Living Space [NYT]
· Official site: Making Room [makingroomnyc.com]