Places to Live – Cities and Towns 6

I found the last three articles in the “Cities Series”  difficult to write because I wanted to get it right. So, I thought I would change it up this week with some blurbs on different kinds of Places to Live. 

Willowbrook Apartments, Los Angeles 

Designed by Los Angeles Architect Michael Lehrer, these seven small but airy homes have been designed for disabled veterans living on the LA streets. Every two of the 300 sf units share an entry patio and are mirrored back-to-back for efficient construction. There is a community meeting area and a laundry room. See photo above.

East Rancho Apartments, Los Angeles 

East Rancho Apartments

Also from Michael Lehrer, this 3200 sf duplex built on a small in-fill lot for 10 formerly homeless teens in South LA. The design team created a bright, colourful, optimistic space that considered the service agency’s vision of its clients as “at promise” rather than “at risk”. The residents have private space but share bathrooms, a living space, and shaded balconies all on a beautifully landscaped lot.  

Zoncuantla Apartments, Veracruz

Zoncuantla Apartments, Veracruz

Hardly  social housing, I know! However, this kind of project helps drive imaginative solutions to effective land use – even when that land is cliffside. This four-apartment block sits on an 8600 sf lot, uses a little less than 50% of the land surface, thus preserving over 50% for green space. Planted: thirty-one trees and about eight other plants every 10 sf. Site development allows for maximum rainwater absorption to help maintain the ecosystem of the surrounding rainforest. 

Mighty Buildings  

A 3-D Printed Home by Mighty Buildings

Mighty Buildings claims that this house in Desert Springs, California is the world’s first 3-D printed net zero home. Printed in Oakland, California the Light Stone walls have four times the strength of conventional concrete, weigh 30% less, and produce less carbon dioxide. Mighty Buildings claims that it reduces construction waste 99%, partly by recycling 60% of 3-D printing materials. It also claims that it can build a home in half the time it takes traditional house builders. 

And then there is Solarpunk  

Singapore – an aesthetic ambition?

Now this may be out there! Solarpunk is about the future and the belief that humans can live in harmony with the planet. Local communities thrive, diversity is embraced, and the planet Earth becomes a green Utopia. Essayist and public philosopher, Hanzi Freinacht, posits that to change environmental direction, it is not enough to be motivated by fear of pollution and climate change. And, that there has to be more than a moral mission such as saving the animals. 

Freinacht believes we need an aesthetic ambition – a vision of beauty, good taste; a sense of creativity and inspiration. So what has this got to do with places to live? Freinacht argues that the aesthetic ambition can move the Western middle-class towards  the kinds of lifestyle and economic changes that the climate crisis requires. If you are not sure what this looks like – think Singapore pictured above. 

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.

William Morris, Arts and Crafts Movement circa 1860 

We Should Know Better

August 26, 2023

I know! I am going to sound like a grumpy old man. Maybe that is because I am. I have been scratching my head in wonderment at the Taylor Swift phenomena. Is she an Incredible song writer, composer, and performer? I really don’t know! A discussion for another time? But probably not. At my age […]

Not in My Back Yard

August 4, 2023

Don’t build it! At least, Not In My Back Yard ! I acted as an advisor  in the sale of a beautifully natural, 14-acre urban waterfront estate. Existing zoning allowed for the development of 30 to 35 single-family homes, which after road dedication would leave very little green space. I did not think that was […]

Glasgow – That Dear Green Place

July 31, 2023

We were visiting Glasgow (literally that Dear Green Place in Gaelic) to see where my father was born, grew up, and went to University. Fortunately for me, my cousin John from Australia had just visited and had met with historians, Bruce Downie  and Norry Wilson.  So,  we too arranged to meet them in the Govanhill […]

Vienna on Top Again

June 25, 2023

Vienna on top again. This week both Monocle Magazine and The Economist unveiled their quality of life / most liveable city indexes. There are differences in the way each publication sets its index. So it is even more impressive that once again, Vienna tops both lists. I am a bit lazy today so rather than […]

Large interior courtyards

From Hot Bedding to Superblocks

June 20, 2023

Many Viennese went from hot bedding to superblocks overnight. Could they even imagine  an apartment complex 1000 metres long built along two streets with even more massive landscaped courtyards? Could they conceive of 1400 apartment units built to house 5000 people on 56,000 square metres or 38 acres of land.  Or a vertical build-out that […]

Vienna – the World’s Most Livable City

June 16, 2023

Vienna had been a poor city even before the First World War. “Normal” housing arrangements  meant six to eight people sharing one room and a kitchen. Then, in early 1919, just after the Armistice,  the cost of living tripled in two months. Bed lodgers could no longer afford their 8-hours a day in a shared […]