A mixed income housing community

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


“It would be something if everything we made encouraged people to become more closely acquainted with their surroundings, with each other and with themselves… so that the world, in so far as it is amenable to our influence, becomes less alien, less hard and abstract, a warmer, friendlier, more welcoming and appropriate place; in short a world that is relevant to its inhabitants.”

Herman Hertzberger

The purpose of this thesis is to create a mixed income housing community in Old Town Alexandria. While people who share similar lifestyles tend to cluster together, this project encourages people of difference to find a common ground. The community will be the size of a residential Old Town block to encourage a fulfilling amount of human interaction. The interior of the block will be subdivided into a variety of places: places that provide the opportunity for people to sit in quiet contemplation, another place for children to play, other places that encourage people to interact with one another, and places where one can passively observe the surrounding activity with the option to participate or not. The houses have a variety of living spaces in response to the diverse social groups that will inhabit the blocks. These houses follow the language of Old Town in terms of materials, details, rhythm, and the way in which they meet the street, and so connect this community with the larger order of the town. This project maintains the privacy of the individual houses, encourages human interaction in the public areas, and at the same time recognizes the responsibility of designing these houses using the same structure and patterns that are inherent in Old Town.