Architect Damien Brambilla turned a run-down Paris apartment building into an open, bright group home for adolescents with a landscaped garden. “I’m maybe a bit naive to think that this garden and the sensitive interior space will have the capacity to soften the sometimes difficult daily lives of the adolescents that live here,” says Brambilla, “but that was nevertheless my underlying intention.”
Multifamily housing projects that meet Passive House standards are bringing European-style energy efficiency to a new demographic in the United States. Knickerbocker Commons is one of two 24-unit buildings that architect Chris Benedict has designed to Passive House standards in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Along with the Mennonite, which was built just a mile and a half away, it is open to disabled and low-income tenants, who will pay $600 to $1,110 per month. Putting foam and stucco on the facade proved an economical way to insulate the structure.
In South Africa, Eric Bigot's Zenkaya prefab housing concept aims to provide affordable housing and stimulate the economy by creating construction jobs, something the French-born architect has ample experience doing. “One of the goals of Zenkaya was to create employment in a country crippled by [an unemployment rate of over 25 percent],” explains the architect, who likes to call himself a social entrepreneur.
Helmut Jahn’s dynamic supportive-housing facility brings green design to Chicago. The Schiff Residences are permanent supportive-housing, with onsite case managers and other voluntary services. All of the 96 units are single-occupancy studio apartments.
In Brooklyn, Architecture in Formation's Navy Green Supportive Housing complex is meant to be a symbol and anchor for the mixed-income Navy Yard development. A cutting-edge home for the chronically homeless, the building's interior and garden—complete with a "rampitheater" for those with mobility issues—has won awards for its user-centric design.