'Housing as an active urban platform'

Float House

Affordable Housing - ReGEN International Competiiton

Honorable Mention: 'Best Unique City Infrastructure'

Boston Society Architects - ReGEN

Sargents Wharf is historically a space of exchange and services. This concept transforms this high value site into a prime civic waterfront space that will return the site to a space for exchange, access, and continuity.

FLOAT HOUSE is an urban platform that identifies the perception of affordable housing as a short-term transitional space, as its greatest asset.  In this context, ‘short term’ unlocks a field of organizational filters of ‘access and duration’ that seek alternatives to carry a positive message to a variety of audiences through urban form and program.

 

PUBLIC CORRIDOR EXTENSION ACTIVATING THE URBAN GROUND

The massing is an extension of two overlapping conditions:

First, the site is a visual extension of Clark Street from the elevated Hanover Street. The site is organized as an internal street that terminates at the extended waterfront and harbor walk. The extended waterfront stages a site for two major seasonal programs, a tethered air balloon ride in the summer spring and fall, and the landing site of the balloon becomes a public ice rink during the late fall and winter months. The public approaches the site through the nearby hubway bikeshare station, access from the T, nearby bus stop, and the water taxi stop adjacent to balloon launch site.

Second, the long bar masses were logistical characteristic of the wharf buildings and sheds. Similar to these older structures, the residential bars are stitched by iconic masses that puncture through housing and return activity to the ground. These Urban Rooms contain distinct programs such as daycare, education hubs, and clinic, that provide access and opportunities for both the residents and the neighboring community.  


 

Programs such as cafes and rentable space, provide opportunities for residents to gain work experience and generate income for maintenance.

The massing creates a vibrant internal street that is reinforced by the programmed Urban Rooms forming a series of experiences to the new waterfront.

 

FINANCIAL MODEL

The Urban Rooms are shared programs run by and for the community.  These include programs that can benefit from crowd-funding to supplement operational costs, while giving the North End community an opportunity for part ownership.

This proposal prototypes a financial self-sustaining model that supplements operational costs while generating job opportunities for residents. Commercial spaces are intentionally smaller and follow a workshare or pop-up model rather than a leasable space/tenant format. Here companies leverage the visibility of the site for exposure. The neighborhood benefits from the cycle of new businesses. Access to these spaces require that companies offer part- time employment and or educational opportunities to a number of residents in relation to the size of their company and space.

 

RELATIONSHIPS

The reciprocal relationship of site and program suggest that it is essential that affordable housing exist within urban core sites such as Sargents Wharf, which can benefit the city and the citizen in ways a peripheral site could not. This connected context unlocks ‘housing’ as an active, urban platform that is focused on the individual.

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