Improved Design

Key to realizing maximum benefits from publicly financed housing making sure that we’re getting all that we can get in terms of affordability, livability, minimizing environmental impact, and  improved social integration. Seattle is ok at producing publicly financed housing, we want to be great at it!

In order to achieve this, we want to take a page from Vienna’s playbook: the developer competition. Vienna achieves great outcomes from its affordable housing and these developer competitions are a key part of this. Each competition is not only important in and of itself, but also it feeds into a cumulative process in which the best designs become the standard to beat in the next competitions.

That’s why we would like the city to fund a public design competition and pilot project to get this process started. The design competition will not only look at physical design but also at the social process of affordable housing develop. By pairing the design competition with a pilot project, the whole thing will be remain grounded in real world constraints. When the buildings are built, the performance of the building can be measured against the expectations set in the design process.

One of the central challenges of our day is how to integrate multi-family and single family housing, physically and socially. The initial design competition should be structured around common lot sizes found in these zones so that this can inform the development of “Family Zoning” that integrates single family and multi-family dwellings physically and socially.

The ultimate result of the design competition is to provide a strong set of designs that inform future developer competitions. Ideally, one aspect of these developer competitions and the development process as a whole will be to integrate future resident input as early as possible in the design process. This not only allows future residents to shape their own building, it also allows the development process to start off the process of new residents forming relationships with existing residents. This process the the ground on which a welcoming community is built.

Housing Now is working with our elected representatives to move forward on the pilot projects and implementation of this competition framework, if you’d like to get involved, click the “take action” link and also feel free to drop us a line.

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