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An idea for the housing crisis in Los Angeles. Award-winning riverside housing development project

04 of March '24
w skrócie
  1. Students of the Faculty of Architecture at the Warsaw University of Technology - Zuzanna Bućko and Alona Usychenko have designed a modular apartment building that can be installed under a bridge.
  2. Their project, T.R.U, won Third Prize in the international architectural competition "Los Angeles Affordable Housing Challenge" on the housing crisis.
  3. The jury appreciated their way of catching up with the city, using undeveloped spaces along the river and under bridges, as well as their design creativity and flexibility.
  4. The structure of the building consists of modules made of prefabricated steel beams and panels made of plant materials including corn.
  5. The authors also emphasized the development of the space around the facility, proposing spaces for sports and relaxation, as well as stores and restaurants.
  6. Formore interesting information, visit the home page of the A&B portal

Zuzanna Bućko and Alona Usychenko, architecture students at Warsaw University of Technology, designed a modular apartment building that could be built in Los Angeles. Their project „Thrive Revive Unite” took part in the international competition „Los Angeles Affordable Housing Challenge” on the housing crisis and received Third Prize! The jury praised the way the city was being densified, the use of undeveloped spaces along the river and under bridges, and the design creativity.

Mapa wybranego fragmentu Los Angeles

Map of a selected part of Los Angeles

© Zuzanna Bućko, Alona Usychenko

housing problems in LA

"Los Angeles Affordable Housing Challenge" was the sixteenth edition of an international competition organized by the Buildner platform on the design of accessible housing. Participants were tasked with proposing a flexible, innovative pilot project for affordable housing in Los Angeles. The city is grappling with soaring rents, gentrification, and affordable housing for lower-income households is becoming increasingly scarce.

Thrive Revive Unite to projekt mieszkań w Los Angeles

object may be suspended under a bridge

© Zuzanna Bućko, Alona Usychenko

The contestants were tasked with proposing a way to solve these problems. They were encouraged to present flexible solutions that could meet the diverse housing needs of families, singles and couples. The organizers did not specify a specific location, as they wanted the designs to be versatile enough to be used in different parts of Los Angeles. The jury was looking for proposals that challenge typical notions of housing and design, while retaining a practical element that could potentially bring these concepts to fruition. Designers were to consider factors such as accessibility, amenities and potential impact on the surrounding community and fit into the urban landscape. Sustainable design and the use of energy-efficient systems and features that minimize environmental impact was also an important consideration.

Projekt T.R.U

The T.R.U project received the Third Prize

© Zuzanna Bućko, Alona Usychenko

Warsaw University of Technology students on the podium!

The works submitted for the competition were evaluated by a jury consisting of: Persis Lam (Diamond Schmitt Architects, BETA), Dr. Steffen Lehmann (UNLV School of Architecture in Las Vegas), Christina Lennox (Brownstone), Maya Mahgoub-Desai (OCAD University, Moriyama Teshima Architects), Fotini Pitoglou (FORREC), Caitlin J. Saladino (The Lincy Institute and Brookings Mountain West), Yimeng Teng (Ro Rockett Design), Katrina Yin (JDS Development Group).

Three grand prizes were awarded (1st Prize to Remedy Towers by a team from the US consisting of: Jihoon Kim, Brenna Elise Fransen), Buildner Sustainability Award and six honorable mentions.

Third Prize went to the Thrive Revive Unite project by Zuzanna Bućko and Alona Usychenko from the Faculty of Architecture at Warsaw University of Technology.

Rzut projektu T.R.U  Studentki położyły nacisk na zieleń i tarasy

The object is formed by a structure of prefabricated steel beams

© Zuzanna Bućko, Alona Usychenko

The proposal not only densifies a system with infinite potential, but also activates undeveloped areas of the waterfront, Fotini Pitoglou stressed.
LA's riverfront location helps complement the development and provides affordable housing options. I appreciate the use of sustainable building materials from waste corn production. A unique proposal that takes into account currently underutilized urban areas [...]," said Yimeng Teng.
A key advantage of this proposal is its adaptability for implementation in underutilized spaces. However, like many creative designs, the concept faces challenges in practical implementations. These include the complexity of planning and building on existing infrastructure. While outdoor spaces are well thought out, more attention needs to be paid to planning common spaces, given the potential additional costs, Maya Mahgoub-Desai assessed.

Sposób transportu i składania modułów

how to transport and assemble modules

© Zuzanna Bućko, Alona Usychenko

Thrive Revive Unite

The award-winning students have an idea for unused space along the river, particularly focusing on areas under bridges. The project is in line with the city's existing master plan, focusing on integrating bike paths and green spaces, and enhancing it with affordable housing options in this heavily industrialized zone. The authors proposed a modular structure to be suspended under existing bridge structures as a way of adding density.

T.R.U. embodies the idea of „Thrive, Revive and Unite.” Thrive symbolizes our commitment to creating optimal living conditions, Revive stands for revitalizing the LA River and its surroundings, while Unite symbolizes creating pedestrian-friendly connections and a dynamic community, the authors say.

Parter zajmują przestrzenie wspólne

The first floor is occupied by communal spaces

© Zuzanna Bućko, Alona Usychenko

The design of the PW students is characterized by flexibility and adaptability, allowing it to be implemented in various locations along the river and suspended under bridges. By adjusting the width and height, it allows a variety of architectural forms and configurations, using a minimal number of prefabricated elements. The structure of the proposed building consists of prefabricated steel beams, assembled on site into a structural frame. This frame is then filled with eco-friendly, prefabricated panels made from materials such as corn waste, plywood, plant insulation and glass. The modules, based on a 3 × 3 × 3 m grid, minimize transportation costs and thus environmental impact.

Rzut mieszkań i przestrzeni wspólnych

projection of apartments and common spaces

© Zuzanna Bućko, Alona Usychenko

resident- and community-friendly design

The authors have prioritized the convenience of future residents. Each apartment includes a private green terrace, creating additional biologically active areas. The spaces inside the building and the surrounding green areas foster a sense of community among residents. The building is tailored to different age and social groups, allowing tenants to modify and customize their apartments. The concept has been expanded to include proposals for multifunctional spaces around the building—bicycle and walking paths, places for relaxation and sports, and service areas such as restaurants and workshops.

Możliwości lokalizacji modułów mieszkalnych

location options for residential modules

© Zuzanna Bućko, Alona Usychenko

affordable solution

The affordability of our housing solution comes from its adaptation to any plot of land, including suspension under bridges, which reduces land acquisition costs. First floor spaces for community use, which can be rented by local businesses, provide an additional source of financing. Efficient delivery and production of prefabricated components, combined with the ease of modifying the structure, contribute to the project's economic accessibility. The ability to remove modules and use them elsewhere allows the building to be fully utilized without leaving empty units, minimizing additional expenses. Our project is not just a response to the housing crisis, but a holistic urban intervention that integrates with revitalization efforts, promoting sustainability, social engagement and economics, Susanna and Alona argue.

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