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HRVOJE NJIRIÇ: FABRICATING HAPPINESS

Workshop of Hrvoje Njiric at the MCH 2019

FABRICATING HAPPINESS: Kindness, Empathy and Well-being

Dugopolje Co-housing Case Study

Workshop 2: Hrvoje Njiric [04-08 M] with Esperanza Campaña

 

Abstract.


The aim of the workshop is to foster students' understanding that housing is deeply embedded in its immediate and broader context. Therefore, it is necessary to regard collective residential typologies in relation to urbanistic issues.


In terms of architecture, it makes sense to observe the ever-changing social transformations and market trends when designing households. It does not matter if the floor plan is slim or deep...


These two aspects will mark our research – actual lack of territory and current housing demands.


Dugopolje business-park in Croatia will be our test-bed. Obscured by the planning bureaucracy and suffocated by the market economy, this sattelite of the City of Split offers a perfect exercise on how an urban sprawl could be regenerated as a lively neighbourhood, functioning 24/7 and promoting specific public space in its own right.


The workshop headline comes from the speech of the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who spoke herself in favour of an emotional approach – whatever we do, even politics. Finally, this exercise should raise awareness that all our efforts will be, sooner or later, measured by how much love and passion we put in our labours. Period.

 

 

History.


Epicurus’ philosophy. It stated that through Epicurus’ quest to discover the meaning of happiness, he found that one of its key elements is to live a life surrounded by friends. So Epicurus bought a house just outside of Athens for him and all his friends to live. It is through his philosophy that living with others equals happiness where lies the idea of the communal living concept. It is in this position where it is possible to reflect on the excess of the one bedroom apartment concept, and it’s constant need of space, money, and development.


While co-living is not a new concept per se, co-housing, communal housing, and communal apartments is a modern concept, due to that it is partially or completely controlled by a government. In Soviet Russia, shortly after the revolution, and because of the sheer mass of migration from rural to urban; Lenin built communal apartments to subside the “housing crisis”, the dom-kommuna program. The apartments were built without the human psychology in mind, instead prioritizing mass infrastructure and limited time. When building the communal apartments fast, they forgot to consider two important considerations: the many uses of a home, and who should live with whom. Instead, it was a confusion of space and people.

 

Schoenauer attributes the abandonment of Russia’s collective habitation experiment to four conditions. First, the housing shortage during de 20’s and 30’s was so acute that compact one-bedroom dwellings often were occupied by large families or more than one family in extreme situations. Second, the construction of collective facilities had to be postponed in order to free labor and building materials for more essential buildings. Third, there was no previous experience with the management of collective apartment buildings in Russia, what resulted in large-scale dissatisfaction among tenants. And fourth, the concept of collective habitation presupposed a considerable degree of sophistication and affluence on the part of its users which was hardly the case at that time in Russia.


In summary, overcrowded living conditions, incomplete facilities, poorly managed collective services, and —most significant of all— the difficult and rapid transition from an agrarian and rural folk society to an industrialized urban society were not the ideal conditions for testing the validity of a new housing concept. However, it is here in these flaws, which show us what is important about communal housing: how people use their homes, looking further than sleeping and eating, and who each should live alongside.


The revolutionary co-housing concept materialized in Scandinavia in the late 60’s in the wake of countercultural movements. A group of Danish architects developed the idea and while their concept didn’t come to fruition, an article was published titled “The Missing Link between Utopia and the Dated One-Family Home.” In that same year, 1968, another article titled “Children Should Have One Hundred Parents,” was published favoring the communal housing concept.


This new living concept, this new idea, spread like wildfire through Denmark in the 70s and 80s and co-housing communities began to flourish. This type of communal living had evolved and space was organized in relation to how people use their living space. Many co-housing communities were built with separate living corridors but were connected by common areas like kitchens and living rooms, as well as gardens and pools. One of the most representative examples of this movement was the housing complex of Tinggården, a pioneering cooperative project designed together with the future residents consisting in twelve “family groups” of twelve to eighteen apartments and one community building.

 

Since the 90s, co-housing developments have been erected in many developed nations like Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. However, they are predominantly focused around the retiree or the family. In our world of post-modernity, mass consumption, and our inherent emphasis on individuality, it feels as if we have left youth astray – letting them organize themselves within the technological barriers of digital media.


The tiny living movement is largely credited to Jay Shafer, who founded the first tiny house company in California in 1999. The movement grew when Shafer appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2007 and described his vision for a community of small homes. Seven years later, Tiny House Nation and Tiny House Hunters debuted on television. Over the next few years, tiny living would gain governmental attention due in part to the American Tiny House Association’s founding in 2015. Today, the Association remains a leader in shifting tiny living into the forefront of the housing industry as a sensible and affordable solution to increasing living costs and rising environmental concerns.

 

 

Demographics.


There are many young renters taking advantage of the opportunity to live small. Micro-apartments, for example, fulfill the requirements of many Millennial and Gen-Z renters seeking a more modest living arrangement than traditional rentals typically provide. Today’s young renters find that micro-apartments offer sensible living solutions that complement their busy lives. While each demographic differs, they are both largely impacted by the digital age and have come to expect accommodations that befit their lifestyle expectations.


Millennials, who are very tech-savvy, grew up with the influence of the internet and use digital platforms for nearly everything including work and entertainment. They are good at multi-tasking, are frank about their goals, likes, and dislikes. Because they are also overwhelmed with student loan debt, Millennials tend to be fiscally conscious.


Generation Z, on the other hand, is the first generation born completely into the digital age. Unlike Millennials, who have largely prescribed to traditional career paths, Gen Z is focused on building a unique work-life flow and is heavily attune to various entrepreneurship opportunities due to their innate ability to work with technology. Generation Z is also quick to filter out any information or sales tactics that do not immediately pique their interest – a quality that makes this generation especially challenging to grasp for marketers.


Members of both demographics are fascinated by the micro-apartment movement due to several factors. Both groups value urban location over most other features and are willing to live in smaller apartments within city limits as opposed to larger, suburban rentals. They are also interested in minimizing environmental impact and actively pursue ways to live efficiently, usually seeking basic spaces that allow them to focus on personal interests and career advancement. Finally, both demographics desire living arrangements that provide a sense of freedom and flexibility in the likely, even such as a career change or cross-country move.


Thanks to the information economy, there is a shift from the traditional understanding of property to the concept of access. As explained by Rifkin, the possibility of accessing experiences is becoming more important than owning things. Small-scale apartments tend to emphasize lifestyle over space and enables inhabitants to worry less about rent, utilities and objects so they may focus on more important things. And thanks to “smart home” technology, micro-apartments are as efficient as they can possibly be. Their oft-equipped smart features do anything and everything from providing security to energy-efficiency.

 

Micro-apartments are also popular amongst developers and city planners, struggling to make room for potential residents in already-overcrowded metropolitan areas. Furthermore, since their challenge is to build more homes and increase the housing stock they try to force a greater efficiency of use by dividing existing houses into smaller flats. Micro-unit developments will most likely see record-breaking occupancy rates shortly upon completion.

 

For developers and investors, these small abodes offer a solution to many issues that plague the urban housing industry including cost efficiency and time spent on site construction. Due to their small size, micro-apartments are relatively quick and easy to build and require less upfront investment than full-size apartments. While developers have generally applauded micro-apartment buildings, investment concerns have largely held back tiny living expansion due to lingering doubts about the movement’s legitimacy.


However, as of 2017, micro-apartment development is deemed a sound investment. First and foremost, the tiny living trend does not appear to be going anywhere soon. Millennials, Gen Z, and even Baby Boomers are flocking to micro-apartments for a central location, simplified lifestyle, and most of all, financial independence. With this surge in demand, it seems that there will be no shortage of prospects nor long-term renters. According to Florida, certain cities succeed in attracting members of the creative class. Again, prime locations for micro-apartments where career opportunities abound and typical rents are traditionally costly. Micro-apartments are the solution to these two increasingly common problems.


Additionally, micro-apartments are seriously revered by travelers, who now rely on Airbnb and other share economy apps. Like long-term renters interested in the “Tiny Living” movement, the appeal of a location the middle of a bustling city at a minimal cost is magnetic to tourists from every corner of the globe. It’s a huge selling point to those who don’t desire lavish lodging on their vacations, but instead, an incredible location that’s close to everything.


Nonetheless, according to Grima, the Airbnb phenomena have made possible a scenario not unlike the one described in the mid-nineteenth century by bourgeois social reformer Emil Sax. The Austrian economist suggested that extending homeownership would transform workers into capitalists, by enabling them, in “difficult times”, to generate income from real estate. The ascent of the short-term rental platform has arguably just as much to do with the arrival of hard times as with the ease with which it connects demand and supply, or with the increase in travel.


For those trying to survive in some of the most expensive cities in the world might be what allow them to pay the rent. Airbnb is transformative primary through its pervasiveness, the implied assumption being that sooner or later every home will be on the market and available form rent. It propounds a narrative of post-domesticity, a new relationships with inhabitation that transcends the stability of the home and replaces it with the notion of “drifting nomadism” practiced by its founder, the former industrial designer Brian Chesky, who claims not to have owned a home since 2010.

 

As we examine the current state of the multifamily housing industry, we seem to recognize the lasting impact of these new-found expectations brought upon by Millennials and Generation Z. As the latter group begins to dominate the rental market, investors and developers are looking to micro-apartments to provide efficient solutions to the ever-increasing demands of this upcoming, entrepreneurial generation.


The desire for affordable housing is present in both the gentrifying and underserved neighborhoods throughout the world and in Croatia as well. In gentrifying areas, land values rise with desirability; in underserved areas, depreciated property and land values produce an appraisal gap that prohibits new development.


Construction of new affordable, owner-occupied housing is expensive and only becoming costlier. As the cost of construction and labor increases and incomes do not grow at the similar pace, the affordability gap between what young professionals, small families, or first-time homebuyers can afford and the cost of construction becomes apparent to both developers and buyers—it is no longer advantageous to build starter homes. Subsidies, while helpful, cannot be the only long-term solution to this issue. „Innovative Housing Concepts“ is an initiative that tends to assist lower-income families in a non-discriminating manner, with safe, decent and affordable housing opportunities as they strive to achieve self-sufficiency and improve the quality of their lives. The demand for affordable housing choices combined with a growing population and changing housing desires often results in innovative concepts for housing. Sometimes these housing types, such as cooperative housing, condominiums, bungalow courts, and single room occupancy units, are not new; they were prominent at other times in history.


Since 2000 a growing number of residents, especially residents of color and indigenous people, have seen a decrease in household income preventing them from keeping up with rising housing costs. A decrease in the number of affordable housing units coupled with decreasing incomes greatly limits the ability of residents to find the housing they need throughout the city.


In the context of the United States, Affordable Housing is rental housing with rent and income restrictions (typically 60% of Area Median Income or below) or housing for homeownership with income restrictions (typically less than 80% of Area Median Income) as governed by local, state, and federal housing assistance programs in the US. The loss of affordable housing units and changes in household income have resulted in a greater number of cost-burdened households – households in which more than 30% of household income goes toward mortgage or rental payments. For example, forty-nine percent of all households in the US are cost-burdened, but this is not equal across racial groups. Over 50% of black households, and over 45% of American Indian and Hispanic households are cost-burdened, whereas 1 in 3 white households are cost-burdened. According to the standard measures of affordability, there is no US state where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford to rent or own a one-bedroom dwelling.

 

In many parts of the contemporary city, aging single-family home dwellers do not have the option to move into multifamily housing close to their established social support networks. This further restricts access to single-family homes for households with growing families who desire that housing type and would prefer to stay in the city.


In Croatia, a post-war development pattern emerged with little variation in housing types and density, and few areas for commercial development. Today, the zoning map in these areas remains largely unchanged from the previous socialist era. This workshop should trace an opportunity to foster inclusive communities free from barriers to housing choice.


A microapartment, also known as a microflat, is a one-room, self-contained living space, usually purpose built, designed to accommodate a sitting space, sleeping space, bathroom and kitchenette with 14–32 square metres (50–350 sq ft). Unlike a traditional studio flat, residents may also have access to a communal kitchen, communal bathroom/shower, patio and roof garden. The microapartments are often designed for futons, or with pull-down beds, folding desks and tables, and extra-small or hidden appliances.


Microapartments are becoming popular in urban centres in Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and North America, maximizing profits for developers and landlords and providing relatively low-priced accommodation. In Rome, where the average price of property in 2018 was $3.525 per square metre (10.7 square feet), microapartments as small as 4 square metres (45 square feet) have been advertised.

 

 

Strategies.


Housing cost and housing choice, including diversity of housing location, and diversity of housing type, all influence the guidance found in the Future Land Use and Built Form maps. Strategies outlined below each address the issue of housing choice in a different way. The City administration should seek to accomplish the following action steps to increase the supply of housing and its diversity of location and types:

 

-Increase housing chance and supply by allowing multifamily housing on the select travel routes with higher densities and near public transport stops.

 

-In neighborhood interiors that contain a mix of housing types from single-family homes to apartments, increase housing choice and supply by allowing new housing within that existing range.


-In neighborhood interiors farthest from downtown that today contain primarily single-family homes, increase housing choice and supply by allowing more dwelling units on an individual lot.


-Increase housing choice and supply by allowing the highest-density housing in and near Downtown.


-Allow housing to be built in all areas of the city, including Production and Distribution areas.


-Encourage inclusion of units that can accommodate families in new and rehabilitated multifamily housing developments.

 

In most urban markets, there is a limited supply of rental units appropriate for a single person with a starting salary budget. This disparity of supply and demand has driven rental prices up to a point where many young adults are spending more on their housing expenses than is typically recommended.


Many developers are addressing these issues by decreasing the size of studio apartments in their recent developments. As unit square meters decrease, rents tend to follow. Over the last 10 years, the average size of a studio apartment has decreased 18 percent, from 60 m2 to 50m2. This trend is also linked to the recent rise of the Micro-Unit: super-small studios popping up in urban areas.


While decreasing the size of the units is one solution for maintaining affordable rents, not all renters want to live in a tiny apartment by themselves. The millennial generation thrives on the social interaction of internet sites like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, and by hanging out with groups of friends at coffee shops, breweries and food halls/courts.


By minimizing the surface of the private bedrooms and bathrooms, a larger space can be devoted to the common kitchen and living areas. A variety of seating configurations have been incorporated into the living area to serve multiple people or groups of people engaging in smaller conversations. The lounge seating area in the living room connects through a glass roll-up garage-style door to the large outdoor balcony, expanding the area of the living space. The kitchen provides duplicate appliances to better serve all residents. Two refrigerators, two dishwashers, two microwaves and two ovens make simultaneous cooking projects possible. Booth and bar seating with built-in charging stations are designed for eating and socializing, as well as providing a location for residents to work from home.


Young adults have been renting large houses and dividing the spaces with their friends to make the rent affordable for many years. The example of Macro-Unit takes that concept a step further to create a more formalized design solution. With a variety of management and leasing options and flexibility in the building design, the Macro-Unit can be adapted to the specific needs of a site and target demographic. In keeping with the great diversity of today’s young urban professional community, residential housing solutions intended to serve this community must strive for equally varied housing solutions. The Macro-Unit aspires to contribute to that diversity.

 

 

In particular.


Co-housing for seniors. One of the fundamental rules in marketing is to first know what one is aiming to sell. What is it that sets you apart from others and resonates with your target demographic needs? Today’s seniors expect a lot of the same amenities as their children and grandchildren.Topping their must-have list is convenience, location, and maintenance upkeep – which, in addition to standard measures like waste management and appliance repair, ideally includes plant and pet care while they travel. They also advocate for smart home features, on-site services including mail handling and laundry services, and plush community amenities that cater to their active lifestyles such as a resort-style swimming pool or community clubhouse. The same wish list comes from Millennial or Generation-Z residents.

 

Additionally, senior renters are all about neighboring amenities. This demographic is heavily interested in their health and will appreciate any nearby fitness centers, walking trails, or lap pools this particular neighborhood may offer. If the community can make them feel welcome from the outset in promising the features they’re looking for, we shall have a much easier time targeting this in-demand demographic with our marketing efforts.


Fair Housing: Expanding fair housing choice and access throughout the city means examining policies, regulations, programs and actions that the City and its partners take to assess their impact on affordable housing and the ability of people of color, indigenous people, LGBTQ+, senior residents, families with children, etc. - to make housing choices in an environment free from discriminatory practices - referred to as “fair housing choice”. City decisions regarding housing policy, investment, land use and zoning have a direct and profound impact on affordable housing and fair housing choice, shaping the city’s and region’s potential diversity, growth, and opportunity for all.


Keep it Pet-Friendly. Surveys find that more than two-thirds of millennial renters are pet-owners. Despite this, it is still difficult to locate many apartments that allow pets. However, many speculate that pet-owning trends will change the dynamic of strict pet policies as we know it. Because so many pet-owners are looking for the perfect apartment rental, the demand for apartment communities that provide residents with pet-friendly policies and amenities is increasing.


In order to attract millennial renters, it is ideal to adopt the pet-friendly attitude before we begin to lose potential residents. We should be well-aware of the risks involved if we allow pets into the community. There are measures we can take to ensure the quality of the apartment community is not compromised. Adding pet-friendly amenities, in addition to new pet policies, is also helpful. Pet-centered amenities such as dog grooming stations, dog runs, and synthetic turf pet areas are becoming the norm.


Green Features. Millennials champion global conservation. They are more supportive of stricter environmental laws, tend to attribute global warming to human activity, and favor environmentally-friendly policies such as green energy development.


It has become apparent that millennials value environmentally-friendly features in their living space. Features can be as complex as adding solar panels to your rooftop or as simple as introducing a recycling and/or composting program into the community’s practices. We should also consider including energy-efficient appliances, low-flow toilets, and LED lighting within each apartment.


Community gardens could all be run by local groups and could be a great place to grow your own food while getting the chance to interact with nature and other residents.


A community kitchen is a group of individuals who meet on a regular basis to prepare and cook nutritious meals together. It is great way to meet new people, learn new recipes and improve culinary techniques, all while saving money on equipment and supplies. Whether it be collective housing, community kitchens or gardens. All options fuel sustainable communities which contribute to making a city healthier and better connected.

 

Dare to share. Imagine being part of a economical living environment that embodies social belonging, freedom and promotes a healthy and eco-friendly lifestyle. This is what individuals who live in collective houses experience everyday. 

 

 

  

 

The Site.


Dugopolje is a small settlement just 15 km away from Split in a coastal hinterland. Split Airport is 28 km from Dugopolje, making the area an attractive place to stay for those wanting to avoid crowded areas closer to Split. The settlement is composed of three parts – the old center grouped around the church, the agricultural strip facing the fields and the business park close to the A1 highway.


The latter zone, comprising production and retail, covers the area of aproximately 90 hectares, devoid of any residential function and human presence outside the business hours. There is a peculiar relation between the road layout and rectangular industrial buildings on trapezoidal plots that leaves a fair amount of triangular left-overs. Can we take advantage of this fact and negotiate buying-out this residual parts of the lots to place housing structures there? The necessary infrastructure already exists – one just needs to plug-in.


Some of the triangles are pretty small, the others bigger. Can we devise an algorhythm, a common denominator to insert co-housing volumes into it, not forgetting to promote some public space as well?

 

A settlement of the new breed? 

 

 

 

The Task.

 

-evaluate the potential of the location and make a catalogue of possible implementation sites

 

-research the examples of urban development on residual sites in general

 

-develop a masterplan comprising of housing, open public space, green space and parking areas

 

-understand the logic of co-housing by studying referential examples

 

-interpret and show the research material

 

-propose three different solutions (for 3 different lot sizes) of co-housing structures

 

-present the results with a standard set of plans and physical models, but foremost with a carefully directed GIF lasting not less than 20 sec (cca 50 frames)

 

 

Timeline.


Monday 04.03.2019 at 10.00


Input 1

-HNJ – site introduction + co-housing aspects
-EC – “City leftovers, social economy and new civitas. The case of Kalkbreite.”

 

Task 1

-choose 3 best sites/lots and prepare argumentation
-elaborate a concept for transitional public space in form of diagrams
-find 3 inspiring examples of co-housing
-study 3 key texts on the topic and prepare a presentation

 

Tuesday 05.03.2019 at 10.00


-Presentation of Task 1

 

Input 2

-HNJ – housing concepts + typologies, communication zones, transitions
-EC – “A reduction to the very minimum”

 

Task 2

-choose your target group of residents
-develop individual spaces - units related to the specific users
-develop collective spaces related to the all users
-design a series of active sections


Wednesday 06.03.2019 at 10.00


-Presentation of Task 2


Task 3

-show the application of the concept to the other sites
-develop the entire site as a provisional masterplan (public and transition zones, traffic, green space)
-make a first GIF draft

 

Thursday 07.03.2019 at 10.00


-Presentation of Task 3


-Desk crits


Friday 08.03.2019 at 15.30


-Final presentation

 

 

Bibliography.

 

-Together. The new architecture of the collective. Vitra Design Museum. Ruby Press, Berlin, 2017.

 

-Home Economics. Five new models for domestic life. British Pavilion. Venice Architecture Biennale, 2016.

 

-SQM. The quantified home. Space Caviar-Biennale Interieur. Lars Müller, Zürich, 2014.

 

-MADDEN, David; MARCUSE, Peter. In defense of housing. Verso, London, 2016.