Addressing California’s urgent need for quality affordable housing, we transformed a vacant and topographically nondescript Sacramento site into the prototype for an entirely affordable housing community, providing 144 units for seniors to live and thrive in homes flooded with natural light and integrated with the landscape.
Aimed at developing a tool kit to deploy across multiple jurisdictions and site configurations, we created a flexible environment of planned and organic strategies that encourages health through social engagement and communion with nature. The linear low-rise site plan of stacking and interlocking modular units provides all essential support services found in a modern senior living facility, while focusing on ease of living and a fluid connection with the common areas of the site.
Organized around a continuous socially dynamic exercise and circulation path, conjoining housing clusters, community gardens, recreational and amenity facilities, and the social services hub, the looped configuration foregrounds a garden-centric lifestyle tracing daily activities through the drought tolerant landscape. Along the loop, the building massing and programmatic distribution creates a series of microclimates, expanding the linear progression of the site into a network of exterior rooms.
To successfully navigate the numerous entitlement, funding, and construction budget and schedule challenges associated with affordable housing, the design team elected to utilize a fully modular
construction method. Each residential cluster is achieved through the conjoining of six prefabricated units into one of three configurations. Each configuration is positioned to maximize the effectiveness of solar and environmental controls, and fitted with an array of photovoltaic panels and brise-soleil to reduce heat gain and encourage passive cooling. Direct access to raised-bed edible roof gardens and shared outdoor spaces emphasizes the primacy of social equity, as well as the physical and mental health of the residents.
In further support of the holistic well being of the community, the project includes a primary social services hub and three related satellite modular structures located along the circulation loop. While the hub houses administration offices, a café, community rooms, and flexible social service/medical rooms, the satellites contain laundry and recreational functions, further encouraging social interaction among the tenants. The gardens enveloping these structures serve as gathering spaces – a public gesture – encouraging the types of resident and neighborhood interaction often missing in affordable housing.
Project Team: Aaron Neubert, Jeremy Limsenben, Shuxin Wu, Jina Seo, Amir Mazharimalekshah
"The seniors for whom these units are designed can enjoy the benefits of indoor/outdoor living for both social engagement with their neighbors as well as easy access to outdoor exercise options. Its understanding of the elements that create space that helps people dwell well was demonstrated in natural light and shade patterns that lift up the interior and exterior environments."AIA / LA Design Awards Jury, October 28, 2021