The Innovation of Modular Housing: How Buildings Learn Pattern Languages
September 15, 2021 4:56 AM Subscribe
Apartments Built on an Assembly Line [ungated] - "The pandemic put a general crimp in housing construction, but made a California factory that churns out prefabricated housing extra busy."[1,2]
"The non-democratic approach is more efficient in the short term, but the greatest danger is losing common sense."
Mr. Holliday, who co-founded the factory with Larry Pace, said doing it this way, versus constructing a building on site, also cuts costs by as much as 30 percent. In the Bay Area, where the price of building a single affordable housing unit is close to $1 million, it can mean the difference between a developer building an apartment or not...also btw...
A year and a half after opening its doors, the pandemic hit. Even as demand for housing accelerated, construction stalled. Prices skyrocketed for crucial materials like lumber, even further increasing the cost to build and worsening California’s affordability crisis, particularly in the already pricey Bay Area, where the median price for a single-family home now tops $1 million. Nationally, home prices were up a record 18 percent in July over the same month last year, according to data from CoreLogic.
Mr. Holliday said the upshot is that more developers in this staid, traditional industry have been willing to experiment in an attempt to cut costs and get projects done quickly. As a result: “We’ve been flooded with work.” Factory OS has expanded to add a second factory right behind the first. The company has 24 more projects in the pipeline and is planning to open a third factory in Los Angeles in the next two years to meet demand in Southern California...
Factory OS is primarily focused on affordable housing — about 80 percent of what has been built here ranges from housing for the previously homeless to below-market-rate apartments for lower income workers, artists and students. The company takes on a handful of market rate and luxury projects too, but in the past three to five months, there has been so much demand that Mr. Holliday said he has had to turn away business...
Mr. Holliday said one of his big challenges is finding enough workers to meet demand. “The labor force for building housing is shrinking,” he said. His solution? Hire and train people who may not otherwise find employment. About half of Factory OS’s unionized employees are “second chance” workers, including about 20 percent who have served time in prison.
- Rents rise in 30 biggest US cities for the first time since Covid - "Single-family homes that were built-to-rent saw even bigger increases, with prices up 13.9pc from a year earlier. Those gains have triggered a surge in interest among institutional investors in housing as an asset class... in some cities like San Francisco, an increase in the supply of new housing may be damping the rent rebound."
- The Rapid Increase in Rents - "What is happening? Why? And what will happen... there are quite a few apartments under construction. There have been significant delays in construction, but we should expect quite a few completions over the next year increasing supply."
- Dead Department Stores Reborn as Schools, Libraries, and Offices - "Property owners and designers see cost savings and environmental benefits in adapting older buildings rather than tearing them down."
“The big urban question of the 1980s and 1990s was what to do with former industrial areas of all of our major cities,” says Owen Hopkins, director of the Farrell Centre, a research hub for architecture and planning at Newcastle University in England. In the 2020s, he says, it’s “What can we do with post-retail spaces?”
- Lessons From the Rise and Fall of the Pedestrian Mall - "Car-free shopping streets swept many U.S. cities in the 1960s and '70s, but few examples survived. Those that did could be models for today's 'open streets.'"
- 1e van der Helststraat, 1978 & 2005 - "They say 'We can't do that. We're not Amsterdam.' You reply 'Amsterdam wasn't always like that either' & show before & after transformations illustrating how cities we admire made CHOICES. They try new excuses. You don't accept them either."
- A Park-Building Revolution Is Transforming a Russian City - "A public space initiative in the Tatarstan city of Kazan is using a participatory design approach to create hundreds of new projects."
Six years after Fishman-Bekmambetova’s arrival, a massive initiative often referred to as a “green revolution” has dramatically reshaped this city 450 miles east of Moscow. Tatarstan’s Public Space Development Program, launched by Fishman-Bekmambetova and Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, has created or upgraded more than 420 projects throughout the republic, including parks, walkways, gardens and other kinds of landscaped areas.
You don’t have to walk far in Kazan to see how the new public space program has changed the city. Near the center of the city is the Lake Kaban Embankments, designed by the Chinese-Russian consortium Turenscape +MAP and completed in 2017. The project transformed a formerly deserted postindustrial site around three lakes into a waterfront promenade with rows of trees, beds of wild grasses and wooden decks. At night, the area is illuminated by lights inside glowing red benches of diaphanous resin. Huge fountains rise on the lakes; restored wetlands help clean the once-heavily polluted water...
The effort has garnered much international attention: In 2019, Kazan hosted the World Urban Parks conference; that same year, the Aga Khan Foundation awarded Tatarstan’s public space development program its prestigious Architecture Award. But according to Fishman-Bekmambetova, the team’s most meaningful achievement has been to democratize the design process. The Tatarstan initiative adopted a process known as participatory environmental design, a discipline pioneered by U.S. architect Henry Sanoff. Each project is preceded by extensive public meetings and surveys, even though this kind of outreach can delay projects and result in time-consuming revisions.
“We come and ask people what they want done, what they want preserved, and what they want to go,” Fishman-Bekmambetova said in phone interview. “And if less than three-quarters of the people are happy, we change the project according to their comments.”
Community input traditionally has not been a major part of decision-making in Russia. But the participatory design approach Fishman-Bekmambetova initiated in Tatarstan has since become the template for open-space development in many regions throughout the country.
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