Portfolio Project Detail

Co-Independence Eric Baker and Jeff Ziemann

While the trending concept of co-living and co-working has its merits in reducing our carbon footprint and urban sprawl, it’s sustainability as a model is limited by its lack of diverse target occupancy. This target audience of young, socializing adults doesn’t grasp the full potential of efficient, shared housing.

The opportunities it misses, and the opportunities explored in this proposed model, include:

-Housing geared towards the semi-dependent and their caregivers
-An ability to adapt to life changes and larger family spatial needs through unit expansion
-A typology that redefines the idealized elements of the single-family home, thereby creating a more inclusive community

Co-Living as a concept is already integral for a variety of individuals, including people with mental disabilities such as down syndrome and autism, as well as elderly in need of minor medical assistance or family supervision. However, these situations typically happen in single-family homes and are not feasible in current Co-Living models. In general, these people can and want to live typical, independent lives, but sometimes need support accomplishing everyday tasks.

A main underlying problem with current Co-Living models is a lack of direct/indirect connection between an individual of need and a caregiver or family member. The project proposed in this competition rethinks the Co-Living model starting with the unit as the fundamental building block. A new unit typology is designed to allow for multiple units to be reconfigured to be directly connected, if this type of connection is needed/desired between occupants. This flexibility to create a semi-permanent connection bridges the gap that current Co-Living models lacks to support individuals of need.

This flexible aspect of the units also allows for individuals to occupy two or more units if a need arises. In current Co-Living models, life events such as family expansion or increased spatial needs are not fully supported with a fixed unit. The ability to expand and link unit modules together creates multiple possibilities for individual agency.

The current trends of Co-Living models exist as fast-paced, energetic environments that cater to young individuals. With current housing prices increasing, creating large income gaps, a Co-Living model that appeals to all demographics could aid as a partial solution to this issue. Older demographics prefer housing models akin to the American suburban dream home, which is currently not reflected in Co-Living models. Rethinking the key elements of the single-family house and incorporating them into a new Co-Living model can begin to create a more inclusive model.

The proposed project creates two, intimate Co-Living communities on each floor. These communities are akin to neighborhoods in a suburban neighborhood and provide a place of socialization and community belonging. The project provides access to nature, and intimate outdoor space to relax. The form of the building creates a courtyard nestled between the neighborhoods on each floor, providing equal access to daylight for all residents along with views of existing and new green space. Resident/community focused ground floor program also allows for residents to engage directly with the existing neighborhood.