Casa di Zia Gessy

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Casa di Zia Gessy

Mismatches Vulnerable groups
Policies and regulations Local policies Public-private initiatives
Promotion and production Public-private partnerships
Ownership and tenure Rental and temporary tenure

Main objectives of the project

A Casa di Zia Gessy (Aunt Gessy’s Home) provides temporary social housing for up to 18 months, aiming to build support networks and promote resident independence. This public housing initiative fosters intergenerational solidarity and communal living. It helps residents achieve permanent autonomy while remaining a lasting support resource. The residents include elderly individuals, single mothers, young people, and "foster families" who guide the community. An educational team ensures project success through goal monitoring and community integration.

Date

  • 2008: Construction

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Cooperativa sociale Un sogno per tutti
  • Promotor: Cooperativa sociale E.T
  • Constructor: L’Associazione Giovanile Salesiana per il Territorio

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Italy, Turin

Description

A Casa di Zia Gessy (Aunt Gessy’s Home) is a project offering temporary social housing solutions for a maximum of 18 months. The aim is to create support networks and encourage residents' ability to live independently. The condominium, a public housing structure, seeks to innovatively address the housing needs of its residents, establishing itself as a replicable model of communal living. It aims to address housing distress and foster relationships of proximity and neighborhood, promoting intergenerational solidarity through mutual support and participation in social activities.

The ultimate goal of the Condominium is to help residents achieve permanent autonomy. It also aims to establish itself as a lasting resource of solidarity networks, even after residents have moved on. The Condominium should remain a reliable point of reference, a source of support, and a model of positive communal living for all former residents, fostering a spirit of permanent mutual aid.

The residents of the Condominium include:

- Elderly individuals, living alone or as couples, who are permanent residents.
- Typically, units are composed of single mothers with minor children, single women, and young people aged 16 to 32 who have come from residential structures or foster care. This serves as an intermediate housing phase to help them overcome temporary vulnerabilities and achieve full independence.
- Families or single individuals who act as "foster families," serving as points of reference for the entire condominium.

The Condominium's success relies heavily on its educational team, which handles both the educational and managerial aspects of the project. Their working methodology includes constant monitoring of goals and ongoing adjustments to meet annually planned objectives. The team comprises educators and individuals tasked with facilitating communication and community development. They integrate into the condominium environment respectfully and without overlapping, maintaining harmony within the existing dynamics.

123 rue Royale, Brussels

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123 rue Royale, Brussels

Mismatches Vulnerable groups Vacant housing
Policies and regulations Local policies Evictions
Ownership and tenure Rental and temporary tenure Protection of social housing

Main objectives of the project

Authorities often view squatters as a significant issue in the housing crisis. Many people become squatters out of necessity, but in doing so, they occupy units that could otherwise house other families in need. The case of 123 Rue Royale serves as a notable example of addressing this problem. Through a well-organized movement behind the occupation, residents were able to negotiate terms and reach a temporary agreement. This allowed them to stay in the building temporarily and transform it into a democratic hub of culture and activities. Eventually, this "legal" occupation came to an end, and the building was returned to its public owner. By following this model, the squatters prevented the sale of public land, and none of the residents were evicted.

Date

  • 2007: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Wallonia Region
  • Promotor: Woningen 123 Logements

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Belgium, Brussels

Description

Social housing constitutes about 8% of the total housing in Brussels. With 43.4% of the population being homeowners, more than half of the population relies on the private rental market. Less than half of social housing applicants are successful, and for the 41,000 families on the waiting list, the wait can exceed 10 years.

The first illegal occupation of empty buildings arose because public authorities had tools to make vacant buildings available to homeless people or to renovate and rent them out on a social basis. However, these tools were not being utilized. What began as an act of civil disobedience to highlight housing exclusion issues has evolved into a recognized movement affirming the social interest in occupying vacant spaces for housing. This is exemplified by the case of Woningen123Logements, or 123 Rue Royale, in Brussels.

In May 2007, a group of people took over the building at 123 Rue Royale. A temporary occupation agreement was quickly concluded with the Walloon Region, the owner of the premises. Among the new occupants were students, street dwellers, artists, undocumented people, and others seeking an alternative to traditional housing. They shared common experiences of difficulty in finding accommodation due to the housing crisis or personal reasons and a desire to live in collective and supportive housing. The non-profit organization is currently seeking a new location as the convention is ending. Additionally, 123 Logements aims to find alternative and concrete solutions to the housing crisis, particularly through the reallocation of empty buildings into self-managed housing.

The case became a pilot project with the signing of a temporary occupancy agreement between 123 Rue Royale and the Walloon Region as the landlord. The agreement allowed the occupants secure tenure for up to six months after the owner obtained planning permission to repurpose the building sustainably.

During the temporary agreement, 123 Rue Royale became an association with the objective of creating supportive and self-managed housing. The association does not intend to impede owners' investments but seeks a simple solution to legally occupy buildings awaiting allocation or investment, offering reliable guarantees for both owners and residents. The association is composed of 90% residents, 5% former residents, and 5% outsiders, with all decisions made in residents' meetings. In 2018, the agreement ended, and the occupants left the building. During the legal occupation, the building became a hub of cultural and economic activities in the neighborhood.

While temporary occupancy agreements are not seen as the ultimate solution to the housing crisis, they provide a roof, security, and comfort at a very low cost, serving as a temporary solution that allows households to save money for debts or sustainable rehousing. This case is notable because it involved community action, emphasizing the importance of seeing opportunities in the housing crisis rather than merely focusing on squatting as a problem.

Generation Block, Helsinki

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Generation Block, Helsinki

Mismatches Services Cultural suitability Diversity
Urban Design Quality Liveability Inclusion Equity
Promotion and production Public-private partnerships Self-management
Ownership and tenure

Main objectives of the project

The Generations Block comprises rental homes provided by Setlementtiasunnot and the Foundation of Student Housing in the Helsinki Region (Hoas), along with owner-occupied housing. This block includes a total of 262 apartments, 20 of which are specially designed for disabled residents. It fosters an active and community-oriented lifestyle, bringing together people of diverse ages and cultural backgrounds. The block features various communal spaces, such as a residents' living room, a stage for movies and performances, a laundry room with a sewing area, a woodworking room, and a soundproof music room.

Date

  • 2017: Construction

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Hoas
  • Promotor: Setlementtiasunnot

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Helsinki
Country/Region: Finland, Helsinki

Description

The Generations Block in Helsinki builds on the concept of student housing with common rooms and shared spaces, expanding it to create a multigenerational community within the housing development. Initiated in 2010, the project has attracted numerous collaborators and partners, including Aalto University, the Ministry of Environment, and the City of Helsinki. The Block comprises 262 homes spread across three buildings, with an entire floor dedicated to shared spaces.

Residents benefit from a variety of communal amenities, such as a garden, kitchen, sewing room, woodworking room, TV room, soundproof music room, sauna, gym, and a theatre stage. A wide, open, wheelchair-accessible corridor connects all these shared spaces, facilitating movement and fostering a sense of community and interaction.

For example, Jätkäsaaren Setlementtiasunnot is one of the largest buildings in the project. It offers studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 32 to 77 square meters. The eight-floor building is equipped with a lift. The living rooms, hallways, and kitchens have laminate flooring, while the washrooms are tiled with ceramic tiles. Kitchen fixtures include MDF cabinet doors and laminate countertops, along with an ice-freezer, a four-burner hob, a dishwasher, and a microwave. All apartments are designed to be wheelchair accessible and feature either a balcony or a French balcony, with some offering private courtyards. For fire safety, all apartments and balconies have sprinklers. The property includes 29 parking spaces located under Hyväntoivonpuisto in the Rokkiparkki parking cave. Each apartment has a mechanical ventilation system and is connected to district heating.

While common rooms and shared living have traditionally been part of student housing and residential or care homes, the Generations Block extends this concept to include everyone in between. It offers residents the chance to form neighborly friendships and foster a sense of community and belonging in a large city, while also providing access to spaces and resources for hobbies and interests. As co-living becomes more popular among young people, it will be intriguing to observe the demographic composition of the Generations Block and how intergenerational living functions in practice.

Viviendas sociales 1737 (Gavà, Barcelona)

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Viviendas sociales 1737 (Gavà, Barcelona)

Mismatches Diversity Vulnerable groups
Urban Design Quality Liveability Inclusion Regulación Técnica Procesos Administrativos
Promotion and production Public promotion Materials Technology

Main objectives of the project

The innovative social housing project by H Arquitectes in Gavá, near Barcelona, demonstrates Catalonia's commitment to low-cost, high-quality housing. Adapted to a triangular plot, the building avoids dead-end corners and offers panoramic views. Apartments feature four adaptable modules and a hybrid structural system for efficiency. Exterior transitions include balconies and glazed galleries, leading to a central atrium that provides natural light and ventilation. With 136 units, the project, backed by IMPSOL, aligns with regional efforts to address housing shortages.

Date

  • 2022: Construction
  • 2017: Ganador

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: IMPSOL
  • Architect: H Arquitectes

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Barcelona
Country/Region: Barcelona, Spain

Description

In recent years, Catalonia has been increasing its public social housing stock with extraordinary low-cost projects. A good example of this architectural excellence is the project by H Arquitectes in Gavá, a small coastal town a few kilometres from Barcelona, between the Garraf massif and the Llobregat delta. The building adapts to the perimeter of a complicated, triangular-shaped plot, breaking the continuity at the corners to avoid dead-end corners that could generate situations of insecurity. In this way, a plot with excellent views and pleasant surroundings is achieved. The building is developed through a system of aggregation that maximises the relationship between the living spaces and the surroundings. All the rooms are exterior and have views of the Ferreres mountain range and the Llobregat Agricultural Park, an area of great environmental interest.

Each dwelling consists of four equal modules of 10.6 square metres, which can be used as living room, kitchen or bedroom. A hybrid structure of screens and concrete slabs separating the dwellings, combined with slender pillars that allow very short and efficient spans, while characterising the space of each room. On both sides of these modules, there are two bands of transition to the exterior: a balcony facing the street and a glazed gallery - where the bathrooms and storage space are located, which can also be attached to the living rooms - towards an atrium where the circulations and vertical communication cores of the whole complex are resolved. Thus, all the spaces have plenty of natural light and cross ventilation.

As explained above, three continuous rings are configured: terrace, programme and circulation, leaving the vertical communication cores inside the atrium. In this way, there are no corridors. The central atrium is a protected and slightly tempered space that ventilates the stairs and makes the dwellings more comfortable. The staircases are very compact and serve four dwellings per landing, giving a total of 136 dwellings.

As for the governance of the project, it is promoted by IMPSOL, Barcelona's public metropolitan developer. Thus, the project is part of a strategy of the city as a whole, together with its adjacent municipalities, to address the growing housing crisis that is being experienced.

The building has been largely awarded: Matilde Baffa Ugo Rivolta 2023 European Award, Shortlisted ‘EU Mies Van der Rohe Award 2024’, ‘III Premis Temps de les Arts’ 2023, Premio ex aequo ‘Premio ENOR 2023’, Premio FAD de la opinión 2023, Finalist "Premios FAD 2023", "Premio en la Bienal Española de Arquitectura y Urbanismo ‘BEAU XVI’ 2023"

Silodalm, Amsterdam

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Silodalm, Amsterdam

Mismatches Functional adequacy Services Diversity
Urban Design Inclusion
Promotion and production Innovation Technology

Main objectives of the project

In the western part of the Amsterdam harbour, an extensive urban redevelopment references a former dam and silo building. This project features a mixed-use program that includes housing, offices, workspaces, commercial areas, and public spaces, all arranged within a 20-meter-deep, ten-story-high urban structure. The apartments vary significantly in size, price, and layout, catering to a diverse demographic and the desire for individuality.

Date

  • 2003: Construction

Stakeholders

  • Architect: MVRDV

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Amsterdam
Country/Region: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Description

In the port of Amsterdam, an extensive urban development operation was launched to densify the city and meet market demands, even in one of the most vulnerable areas. A former dock with a silo building has been transformed into a new neighbourhood that includes costly components: a dock with underground parking, renovation of the silo buildings, more affordable housing, an underwater tanker protection barrier, deep pile foundations and temporary dry dock constructions.

The result is Silodam. Today, the Silodam residential block, located on the river Ij in Amsterdam, houses 157 dwellings together with commercial premises, offices, workshops and collective spaces. The different uses are distributed over ten levels raised above the water by means of a structural grid of pillars and load-bearing walls, creating a compact block reminiscent of a large ship loaded with containers. The silo is located at the end of a dock where other factory buildings were also transformed into housing to bring urban density to this central area of the city. Collective spaces for neighbours, including a marina, a grandstand and a terrace overlooking the sea, take advantage of this privileged location. The Silodam offers a variety of housing typologies to create an intergenerational environment and better respond to market demand. Aiming to promote a mix of residents of different socio-economic and generational profiles, the Dutch studio designed fifteen types of housing that differ in size, organisation and price. Small flats, duplexes, courtyard houses and three-storey lofts are grouped in clusters of four to eight units, forming small neighbourhoods connected by a complex network of walkways, galleries and brightly coloured corridors.

This typological organisation defines the building's exterior identity. Clearly inspired by the image of container ships sailing through the Dutch capital, the façade is a collage of colours, materials (corrugated iron, cedar wood and aluminium) and windows of different shapes, revealing the order of this colourful jigsaw puzzle. Internally, the block is divided into groups of four to eight dwellings, forming small units identified by the colour of their access and by a similar façade treatment - either corrugated iron, cedar wood or aluminium panels.

The ultimate goal was to create a mixed neighbourhood on the river. With uses such as restaurants, offices, housing... And with different attributions in terms of the panoramic views or building characteristics. Although it is not a social rental project, the variety of typologies makes it possible to balance costs and offer housing of varying affordability. In this way, accessibility is generated in a unique environment and in a building with multiple uses and possibilities.

Tinggården, Denmark

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Tinggården, Denmark

Mismatches Services Cultural suitability Diversity
Urban Design Services and infrastructure Quality Liveability Participatory processes
Promotion and production Participatory processes Innovation Cooperatives

Main objectives of the project

Since its construction in 1978, Tinggården has stood as the archetype of low-rise, high-density residential architecture in Denmark. Situated on open land in the town of Herfølge, Tinggården represents a highly successful non-profit housing experiment that utilized architecture to reestablish residents' democracy within the local community. It is renowned as one of the pioneering cohousing experiments globally.

Date

  • 1978: Construction

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Danish Building Research Institute
  • Architect: Vandkunsten Architects

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Denmark

Description

In the 1960s, a group of architects and families in Denmark who sought more interaction with their neighbours initiated the cohousing movement, characterized by private houses grouped around common spaces and facilities. Tinggården was one of the first projects to implement these cohousing theories.

In 1971, the Danish Building Research Institute (SBI) held a competition on alternative housing forms. This competition presented an opportunity to demonstrate flexible, human-scaled architecture as a radical contrast to the technocratic high-rise developments and the perceived monotony of suburban single-family homes. Vandkunsten Architects won the competition with a proposal that emphasized community and aimed to give residents real influence over both the architectural design and their ability to shape their lives and homes. This competition paved the way for the Tinggården housing experiment and led to the establishment of Vandkunsten Architects.

Tinggården was completed in 1978, originally consisting of 78 homes arranged into six family clusters, each with a communal building for shared meals and activities. Additionally, a large communal hall was built for all Tinggården residents. The development expanded in a second phase from 1983 to 1984, doubling the number of homes, a testament to its success.

Each cluster features its own community house, small squares, and gathering places. All homes have access to their social community and direct access to the surrounding landscape, which is fundamental to low-rise, high-density architecture. The architects chose shapes, colors, and timber cladding similar to the red and cream-colored Danish barns in the surrounding area.

Nemausus, Nîmes

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Nemausus, Nîmes

Mismatches Price Functional adequacy
Urban Design Quality Liveability Inclusion
Promotion and production Public promotion Industrialisation

Main objectives of the project

Nemausus is one of Jean Nouvel's most renowned social housing projects, created for the Délégation à l'aménagement du territoire et à l'action régionale of the Ville de Nîmes. The concept behind the building is straightforward: recognizing that there are no standard families with uniform needs and that affordability is essential for making housing accessible to all, an effective social housing project should be both flexible and cost-efficient. In the Nemausus complex, Jean Nouvel addressed these considerations by developing a construction system using prefabricated components, enabling rapid and systematic assembly. The industrial aesthetic of the exterior is mirrored inside, featuring rough concrete walls, aeronautical-style windows, metal staircases, and prefabricated panels that fit together like a Meccano set. This design approach creates a diverse range of dwellings—from studios and one-bedroom apartments to double-height units and three-bedroom triplexes—all benefiting from abundant natural light and excellent ventilation.

Date

  • 1987: Construction

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Ville de Nîmes
  • Architect: Jean Nouvel

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: France, Nimes

Description

Nîmes is a French city located in the south near the Mediterranean Sea. The city's fame largely stems from its numerous Roman-era buildings, including amphitheaters and aqueducts. The area enjoys a favorable climate for much of the year, and its residents often utilize public spaces, spending significant time away from home. However, Nîmes also faces substantial needs for social housing.

The objective of the Nemausus housing project was to address the needs of a constantly evolving society and to construct low-cost housing. The core idea was to define what constitutes a good apartment, which, according to its architect Jean Nouvel, is simply an apartment as large as possible. A good apartment is flexible and capable of being adapted. It should be affordable in a democratic sense. And more importantly, takes into consideration the time factor: after some years, needs might change. So, the building must too.

To optimize land use, the garage floor was designed to be semi-buried, adhering to a municipal ordinance and ensuring that the parking area does not obstruct views of the complex. Nouvel designed two elongated, almost parallel, boat-shaped buildings, with one being shorter than the other. Between them is a projected park and public space, which provides a sense of ownership to the residents. The design preserved two strips of trees from an old arboretum, running the length of the complex.

The two buildings feature semi-buried ground floor parking and three upper floors of apartments. The complex includes 114 housing units, ranging from simple apartments to duplexes and triplexes (such as studios and one-bedroom units with double-height ceilings). The total habitable area is 10,400 square meters, giving an average size of 91 square meters per dwelling, which is significantly larger than traditional social housing. Access to the buildings is via stairs located in the common area, separate from each building. Elevators are situated inside each building, centrally positioned. Horizontal corridors run the length of each building, covering all three floors. These corridors are designed as "high streets," wide enough for pedestrian and bicycle travel, and serve as communal spaces for neighbor interaction and housing expansion. On the opposite side facing the street and adjacent buildings, similar corridors function as private balconies for each unit. These passages expand the living space by opening the walls outward.

In Nemausus, the architect aimed to enhance the area by maximizing natural light and airflow, addressing issues that were previously neglected or undervalued. Currently, the buildings are home to a predominantly young population, with 80% of residents under 35 years old and the oldest being 51. Among the residents, 20% are unemployed, 3% are workers, 20% are employees, 31% are middle-class or educated individuals, 19% are students, and 7% belong to other categories.

To reduce costs, the building structure was designed to be practical and rational. The two buildings are supported by columns placed every five meters, surrounding the parking area. This design decision maintains visual continuity across both sides. The load-bearing walls, dividing each apartment, rest on these columns and are consistently spaced throughout the three floors. This modular approach creates uniformity across the building, allowing different apartment types to be easily configured.

The only deviation from the five-meter wall module is in the center of each building, where two walls are positioned closer together to accommodate the elevators. The stairs are detached from each building, featuring independent steel structures connected to the horizontal corridors by bridges.

The materials used in Nemausus contribute to its distinctive, radical appearance. To save costs, Nouvel utilized industrial materials and prefabricated components that are easy to replicate and assemble.

Sa Pobla Social Housing, Mallorca, Spain

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Sa Pobla Social Housing, Mallorca, Spain

Mismatches Functional adequacy Vulnerable groups
Urban Design Modelos De Ciudad Quality Liveability Equity
Promotion and production Public promotion

Main objectives of the project

Sa Pobla, a small agricultural town in northern Mallorca, faces a severe shortage of affordable housing due to the island's tourism-driven speculation. In response, IBAVI commissioned Ripoll Tizón Estudio de Arquitectura to develop a social housing project that draws from local climate, character, and lifestyle. The design respects street alignment, uses modular aggregation for varied spatial configurations, and centers around an interior courtyard that enhances community interaction. This project integrates seamlessly with traditional building scales and the landscape, addressing housing needs while maintaining quality and standardization.

Date

  • 2013: Construction

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: IBAVI
  • Architect: Ripoll Tizón Estudio de Arquitectura

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Spain

Description

Sa Pobla is a small town in northern Mallorca, Spain, with a population of nearly 13,000. The municipality encompasses a fertile plain dedicated to irrigated agriculture and the albufera, a scenic and ecologically valuable area where two streams converge. Agriculture has long been the primary industry. However, Mallorca faces a significant shortage of affordable housing due to the speculative nature of its tourism industry. This shortage extends to towns like Sa Pobla that are not tourist hotspots. Consequently, residents who earn low wages from agriculture are burdened by high housing costs driven by the island's speculative pressures. In response, IBAVI, the public promoter of social housing on the island, commissioned a housing project in Sa Pobla. The competition was won by the local firm Ripoll Tizón Estudio de Arquitectura.

The social housing proposal in Sa Pobla draws from local elements such as climate, local character, and lifestyle, taking inspiration from features observed throughout the town: courtyards, filters, light, plots, the small scale of buildings, and the unique character and arrangement of each dwelling.

The project aims to emphasize the nuances and intimate scale of domestic life. It respects street alignment and acknowledges the depth of the site. The complex extends between the site’s boundaries, interacting with the party walls that define it, sometimes removing them and sometimes highlighting them, all while enveloping an interior courtyard that organizes circulation and public spaces.

Housing units are based on a single or double-height living/dining/kitchen module, to which smaller modules for bedrooms, bathrooms, and storage are added. This modular aggregation allows for various spatial configurations with the same program elements or different surfaces depending on the number of modules. This approach enables each unit to be part of a cohesive whole, offering a varied landscape rich in nuances and well-adapted to its physical conditions, without sacrificing the quality, rigor, and standardization necessary for social housing development.

The project is notable for how it adapts to the scale of traditional buildings, integrates into the landscape, and arranges the units around a courtyard that serves as a communal square.

Tetris Apartments, Ljubljana

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Tetris Apartments, Ljubljana

Mismatches Location Diversity
Urban Design Quality Liveability
Promotion and production Public promotion

Main objectives of the project

The Tetris building in Slovenia features a façade resembling the Tetris game and is oriented at a 30-degree angle to reduce noise from a nearby highway. The building’s design includes flexible floor plans, with only the outer walls being structural, allowing for adaptable living spaces.

Date

  • 2005: Construction

Stakeholders

  • Architect: OFIS Architects

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Description

After the collapse of Yugoslavia, Slovenia underwent significant economic transformations, which also affected its housing policies. The pressures of global markets and speculative practices further exacerbated the housing situation, prompting Slovenia to develop comprehensive housing strategies. A key component of this effort has been the restoration and development of public housing stocks, exemplified by the Tetris building.

The Tetris building earned its name due to the appearance of its elevations, which many people likened to the iconic shapes of the Tetris game. The design of the façade is straightforward, reflecting the organization of the floor plans. Given its location adjacent to a busy highway, the building’s apartments and balconies are oriented at a 30-degree angle towards the quieter, south-facing side. This strategic orientation minimizes noise and enhances the living experience.

Future plans include the construction of two additional blocks on the longitudinal sides of the Tetris building, which means there will be no direct windows facing east or west. Each apartment features a view of its own balcony, and in some cases, a glazed loggia, fostering a sense of privacy and preventing direct views between opposite apartments.

The apartments in the Tetris building vary in size, ranging from 30 square meters studio flats to 70 square meters three-room apartments. Larger apartments are located on the front façades, offering better views and corner orientations. These apartments are constructed with economical yet high-quality materials, such as oak wood floors, granite-tiled bathrooms, and large windows equipped with external metal blinds.

The building’s structural concept emphasizes flexibility in floor plans. Only the walls that separate the apartment shells from the rest of the building are structural, while all other internal walls are non-structural. This allows for adaptable living spaces that can be modified according to residents' needs.

Social Housing in Elmas, Sardinia

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Social Housing in Elmas, Sardinia

Mismatches Location
Urban Design Liveability
Promotion and production Public promotion

Main objectives of the project

2+1 Officina Architettura has completed an innovative social housing project in Elmas, Sardinia. The building, with its simplified design and economical materials, has a white façade with mustard shutters and uses balconies and brise soleil for solar management. The north-south orientation and access through an inner courtyard promote energy efficiency and social integration, adapting to the local climate and environment.

Date

  • 2010: Construction

Stakeholders

  • Architect: 2+1 Officina Architettura

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Italy

Description

Sardinia, like many islands, faces significant challenges in housing due to speculative pressures and limited space. For this reason, social housing must be enhanced and fostered, taking into consideration the needs of its people, the climate and the integration of the building in the environment. Addressing these issues, 2+1 Officina Architettura recently completed a housing project in Elmas, a small town in southern Sardinia. The new housing structure, strictly aligned along the street, stands out with its white color, acting as a canvas for the mustard-yellow shutters. These shutters, in two different sizes, create a vibrant play of open and closed spaces. Access to the various housing units is through an inner courtyard, where the more articulated southeast facade features a continuous covered balcony connecting the mesh-covered exterior staircase with different units. The facade's openings and color palette echo the street's appearance.

Certain elements, such as the 1.5-meter cantilevering balcony and the exterior staircases, are uniquely shaped to meet program requirements. The designers' expertise strips away redundant layers, emphasizing the core values of these elements. This innovative design by 2+1 challenges a market-driven approach to building practices.

The building's north-south orientation influences the layout of interior spaces, with sleeping areas placed to the north and living areas to the south. Summer solar radiation is controlled through a walkway balcony and brise soleil screen, optimized to respond to seasonal solar variations. On the north side, full shutter panels provide additional protection from cold winds.

Economic resource optimization is achieved through a simplified building geometry, careful selection of construction materials, and the use of readily available local technologies. Materials like Abet laminate Meg offer high weather resistance and reduced construction costs.

Each housing unit is accessed via an internal courtyard, served by external stairs and walkway balconies. This design enhances social security in the peripheral context of the building's location and promotes cohabitation and social integration.