More Than Housing: Re-defining Affordable Housing

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Virginia Tech


The growth in cities has sparked an increase in the cost of living, making it harder for local residents and families to remain in the city. In Washington DC, the gentrification of neighborhoods and lack of affordable housing is causing low-income residents to be displaced and forcing them to look elsewhere for affordable options. The DC neighborhood, Navy Yard, saw one of the most intense displacements of low-income residents.

My thesis asks the question: can architecture and its design sustain the primary function of housing but also create a positive long-lasting effect on the occupants' wellbeing?   In navigating that question, my thesis explores how human-centered design provides sustainable housing  options for low-income residents while also supporting and strengthening the already existing communities within the city. The building, designed for single-parents with children, serves as a space of refuge and community despite the loneliness and isolation that can come with living in a city. All the individual spaces create a building that understands the needs of its occupants, and re-defines how affordable housing should be designed.The private amenities, used exclusively by its occupants, positively adds to their everyday comfort and serves as a place of gathering for those living in the building.   The public spaces included in the building address the needs of the neighborhood and provide support to the surrounding residents as well.  

This project was designed to create spaces that improve the occupants mental and physical health, and design an infrastructure that will affordably sustain itself for years to come. Incorporating biophilic and human-centric design allows the focus to shift from simply creating housing to also investing in the quality of life of our residents.



affordable housing, human-centric, dwelling, community