Jonathan Golli, AIA, NCARB

Jonathan Golli, AIA, NCARB

Pittsburgh, PA, US


Trans Border Thesis

Empowering the individual to customize his/her habitation not as a mass-produced product, but as an affordable, sustainable and commutable home.

Every day thousands of trans-border residents legally commute to work from Tijuana to San Diego. This 15 mile trip usually takes over 90 minutes with a majority of this time spent waiting at the border. Commuting is often an economical necessity as the high cost of living in California excludes low-income earners from home ownership. If housing was affordable, a substantial number of these trans-border residents would choose to live in San Diego, either by themselves or with their families. Through densification, San Diego can adapt to accommodate a rapidly increasing population and severe lack of affordable housing.

This thesis seeks an alternative to affordable housing through the use of prefabrication as a tool to reduce costs for both tenant and developer. Prefabricated modular units (Modulo) can be constructed, by the tenant, in Tijuana using readily available materials. In Tijuana, homeowners frequently construct their own houses using stockpiled building materials collected from extended family members. These self-built units can then be “plugged-in” to existing infrastructure North of the border. Trans-border residents can create equity in the built form while increasing familial wealth through accumulated materials.

The Modulo system traverses a thin line of public and private site programming. Adhering to both agrarian Jeffersonian ideals and the social collective of modernist theory, Modulo strikes a balance between the suburban need for privacy and anonymity, and the communal nature of Hispanic culture. Infiltration of this system into standard lots allows for a diversification of economic, social, and cultural strata in an otherwise homogeneous suburb. To avoid the stigma associated with affordable housing, this thesis will strive to create new inclusive and democratic housing typologies. To accomplish this, each scheme provides internal communal space to promote interaction between residents and neighbors, while still affording private outdoor space for every tenant. Modulo units also require a proportional amount of unenclosed space to vary the density of site and crenellate vertical corridors. Higher density interaction between tenants reinforces the positive qualities of neighborhood.

This thesis creates an alternative, higher density, suburban model that redefines the single family home, while preserving the amenities that so often constitute the American Dream.

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Status: School Project
Location: University of Toronto