Team: Jaime Correa

Worldwide, the production of affordable housing and its multiple crises are popular topics amongst people interested in cities. This project, however, cannot be grounded in this tradition. It is not yet another solution to the problem of housing; the “Alternative City” project is grounded on the reality of a new type of American urbanism – one in which all safety, community welfare, and real estate market assumptions are questioned from within. The project proposes an alternative theory for the redensification of the typical American housing block by means of Micro-Live/Work units placed at the fire code gaps and/or at the edges of private property lines. The formal result validates the creation of a legible perimeter urban block composed of existing single-family houses and proposed Micro-units. The generic value of this acupuncture/incremental approach makes it applicable in any environmental condition.

The most important objective of any architectural project should be the elaboration of an operative theory; its verification should become its only speculative goal. The “Alternative City” project questions the ever-growing needs for private space within the consumerist capitalistic city. The proposed Micro-Live/Work units are placed, without a substantial sacrifice of usable private open space, on existing fire code gaps or at the rear of the property lines. The 10 ft X 40 ft. four-story units require sophisticated solutions for spatial distribution and vertical circulation, the highest degree of efficiency and rigor, and a re-prioritization of civic goals – minimal units force the creation of a political space in which commercial congregation and public life should thrive. The upper-level garden terrace is meant to be either an additional private open-space or a space of food production and energy harvesting.