Is It Time We Delivered Greater Social Impact with Better Affordable Housing?
Modern social housing in the United States can be defined as a ‘program aimed at providing safe and decent, affordable housing for eligible low-income households. Today, there is a greater need for affordable housing because there are many people who are considered to be living in or near poverty. Yet not many architects and designers are working on projects that provide this type of housing.
We believe that much of this has to do with how social housing has traditionally been seen – as affordable public projects, rather than something delivered by professionals who understand both architecture and design.
Constructing for the many benefits to modern social housing
Modern social housing is not just about providing shelter for those who have low incomes or no income at all. It is also about giving them a better quality of life and improving their living conditions so they can live productive lives. This means that they have access to the same facilities as anyone else and can enjoy what everyone else does, too.
Some people see this type of housing as an over-simplification of the problems faced by vulnerable people who lack homes – but it has been shown that these types of buildings provide significant benefits for those inside them too. The benefits of modern social housing include:
- Providing environmentally friendly dwellings due to the use of sustainable building materials and low environmental impact
- More economical than many other types of housing because it requires less upkeep
- Safer than urban or rural areas because they are often designed with safety in mind
- They are built with a variety of different amenities that make them more enjoyable for residents
When designed and constructed well, innovative, affordable housing models can build better communities.
The importance of good design in a social housing project
Good design should not be seen as a luxury, but rather as an integral part of building livable and sustainable spaces for all. Designers have a responsibility to devise innovative solutions to the problems faced by those who are most vulnerable and for whom good design has the most impact.
Social housing projects can be designed to either accommodate different needs or to promote certain values. For example, projects designed to promote community spirit and sustainability may focus on shared spaces that encourage occupants to interact with others in their community. On the other hand, projects designed for a specific group of people, such as seniors, may incorporate features like large windows and walking paths that ensure those residents do not rely solely on cars.
When developing and shaping spaces that people live and work in, design can have a significant effect on their wellbeing and productivity levels.
Construction methods that benefit social housing projects
Construction methods can be a big problem for social housing projects. In the past, social housing projects were mainly constructed using non-environmentally friendly methods and materials. Now, many social housing projects are being built using more modern methods of construction. Indeed, much is mandated in law and building regulations.
The goal is to construct more affordable and sustainable housing. Some construction methods that can help with this include bamboo or steel frames, and modular design and construction.
Smaller companies may not have access to the resources necessary for a full-scale development project. Therefore, projects must be managed between many different partners who collaborate on the project to make it happen. They also need experienced architecture, design, and planning teams to bring ideas to fruition.
A new focus on architecture and design in social housing
The need for affordable housing is a global issue, but it’s especially prevalent in the United States. As more people are priced out of their homes, they are looking to alternative forms of housing such as social homes.
Architecture and design in social homes in the United States is changing because of this increased demand. There is a new focus on designing social homes that promotes access to quality, affordable, and safe living spaces that are environmentally friendly and sustainable.
There are three main types of social homes:
- Communal, in which residents live together but have their own rooms
- Co-living – like communal living, but residents share kitchens, bathrooms, or both
- Co-housing, where a group of people live together in one house and share space to create a sense of community
Which type of social housing is constructed depends upon many factors, but we believe that the community for which it is developed should always have a big say in the project.
Constructing for social impact social housing: Conclusion
Social housing is a complex issue, but we can make a difference by working together to create and construct new and innovative opportunities.
For the goals of social impact housing to be achieved, there should always be an emphasis on the design and construction process, as well as community involvement. The design should reflect a need for reduced costs while still providing quality living spaces, while the construction methods used should enable the vision of the design to come to life.
To learn more about our commitment to building better-quality social housing neighborhoods in which community prospers, contact ACB Consulting.