ON HOUSING AND SUBURBIA, OR, PROTOTYPES FOR A NEW SUBURBAN LANDSCAPE
Irving Grossman Prize, for of excellence and innovation in the area of multiple-unit housing
Finalist, Young Leaders for Future Cities, Housing Ideas Competition

Drew Adams

"For architects and urban designers to capitalize on the new economy, they need to understand the economic and regulatory underpinnings that drive development decisions. Only by their collaborating at the earliest phases with developers on the relationship between the metrics of financial analysis, the opportunities for better building typologies, and the importance of varied uses at the ground plane can an enriched culture of [North] American Urban Design emerge."

Tim Love, Urban Design After Battery Park City in Harvard Design Magazine

Prototypes for a New Suburban Landscape is a proposition for the paradigmatic consideration of small scale housing as a viable and desirable alternative to both conventional forms of suburban living and to status quo responses to density.

It is a reaction to the understanding of the North American urban condition as being a suburban one, formed of a continuous, diffuse patchwork of more or less dense built form and, moreover, a wholly exhausted model of urbanism. Taken to its logical conclusion, it is faced with a broad series of conflating forces which are poised to challenge its present conception. Given such circumstances, suburbia’s vast amounts of under-utilized, highly-accessible and well-serviced land holds significant potential as key territories for re-imagining the contemporary, post-industrial city.

It pursues a rigorous, typologically-driven approach to the formulation of a series of new housing prototypes capable of adaptation to a wide variety of plot sizes and site conditions; from strip malls to power centres, mid-blocks to corner sites and so forth. Five models are interrogated on a typified site in relation to this extensive network of suburban corridors and stake out an important and greatly neglected middle ground in the discourse on intensification and housing development. Most critical is their engagement, necessarily, with the external forces such as code, zoning, policy and real estate development logics which definitively predispose certain forms and broadly govern all aspects of design. Accepting such constraints as ‘givens’, deliberately pragmatic and opportunistic tactics are adopted in an effort to attain greater architectural invention and recover a position of efficacy in response.

Succinctly, what is sought is not simply an alternative housing model but a readily realizable one with agency; viable and competitive against the standard array of market-driven types that compose the built environment today.