by Steven SculcoAug 20, 2021
Los Angeles-based firms Hatch Colasuonno and Relativity Architects (HC+RA) have teamed up to design an affordable social housing in Lancaster, surrounding the desert landscape of the Antelope Valley area in California.
Titled Imagine Village, the project comprises 75 units, which include 30 residences for chronically homeless veterans with mental and physical disabilities, and 45 houses for low-income families. Spread on 2.5 acres and across three storeys, the ground floor contains offices for Penny Lane Centers – a Los Angeles-based non-profit for foster care and adoption services.
In addition to providing permanent supportive residences and workspaces, the housing also features community areas, support services and landscaped zones.
Developed in collaboration with local non-profit groups Abbey Road and Abode Comunities, the project is conceived as part of a four-building master plan. Hatch Colasuonno and Relativity Architects (HC+RA) have worked on two distinct residential typologies for the veterans and families, which can be accessed by corridors spanning the length of the building, and external staircases.
As per the architects, the apartments which are surrounded by other non-profit service blocks, utilise the site by achieving a balance between dense and open spaces. The project hinges on leaving a footprint that largely contributes to the environment.
The materiality of the façade as well as the landscape are especially designed to control the micro-climate against the desert’s extreme weather. Vertical wooden slats arranged to form a zigzag screen shade the south façade from direct sunlight. Flanking the corridor and the stairwell, light filters through the screen and forms geometric shadows on the interior floors and walls, thus adding a layer of movement to these transition spaces.
Elsewhere, the landscape features a large mound and rows of trees that prevent homes from harsh winds.
While the colour of the balconies, rooftop and staircases allude to the natural topography of the desert, exterior walls reference the vast sky.
“This project reduces homelessness and supports productive contributions to society in the Antelope Valley area. These quality, sustainable homes are for those also deserving equal housing opportunities,” mention the architects.
Previous affordable housing projects include a concept of homes out of plastic waste by Norwegian start-up Othalo; prefab concrete homes by American rapper Kanye West; and a vertical village in Pune, India, titled Future Towers by MVRDV.