Des Moines, IA
Affordable housing is a critical need in many communities, but the needs of persons with criminal records are often more desperate and rarely addressed. While the needs of this group are similar to those of the general populace, the particular focus of this project was to create a safe, secure environment with a sense of normalcy.
Situated on a narrow, sloping site near the edge of the city in an industrial district, the community layout looks inward to emphasize its uniqueness from its surroundings. All of the dwellings have individual front doors. Every person and family is given an identity for the neighborhood to recognize, respect, and protect. There are no corridors and there are no unintended references to the unfortunate typology of affordable housing, such as low slung gables and the drone of the sameness of skin, aperture and color. Windows reference spaces within rather than economy railings made of composite lumber; they are melodic rather than utilitarian and elements such as trellises, window bays, sun screens, and railings are employed to allow the building to change and live with sunlight.
The result is affordable housing without the constant reminders of status and caste.
Location: Cedar Rapids, IA