NYC –> Shanghai, 12 days: “Live Between Buildings” – Literally?!

August 29th, 2013. 12 days.

Fantasy, Reality – or Ingenuity??

dezeen_live-between-buildings_section_ss_1I came across this illustration on my Facebook feed today and felt compelled to mini-blog about it given yesterday’s life inside of buildings theme. It depicts one of several designs for “micro-homes” that are designed to literally fit between buildings. The design concept recently won the International Design Competition – New Vision of the Loft 2. Would you guys want to live here?? My immediate impression is – where is the kitchen?! (shows where my priorities are!). And I wonder about the potential fire hazards…

But then, on closer inspection… Could the concept for these micro-homes filling interstitial spaces be applied as a revitalization tool – as a way to reinvent under-used or forgotten spaces – or what urban design expert, Anastasia Loukaitou‐Sideris calls “cracks” in the urban landscape? One of the things we measure with State of Place is the “continuity of the streetscape” – or whether a block has an uninterrupted “street wall” – as it helps create a good “sense of enclosure.” Adopting this type of fill-in approach can help repair the fabric of a block; it’s a really novel way to think about “in-fill” development. Further, while the designers of these micro-homes are espousing compact living, their concept could easily be adapted to promote more compact development, a key tenet of Smart Growth. Ultimately, while design competitions can sometimes get a bit “fantastical” (although I’d totally sign up to live in a home where you could hang a hammock – IF it had a kitchen), it helps to think of them as vehicles for inspiration: to get us all to think outside of the box; to get us to be more ingenious as urban designers, planners, developers, economic development officials, etc.; and ultimately get us closer to our aim of building more sustainable and resilient communities – in the broadest sense of those terms.

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