Housing: An Introduction

As an architect, I’ve been involved with housing of various scales my entire career.  Recently, through my involvement with Horizon’s Community Accelerator, I’ve developed a broader awareness of housing as a social issue that goes beyond development and construction.  I’ve become more aware of housing as a complex regional issue – involving accessibility – not just to housing, but also education, healthcare, work and transportation.  Coincidentally, about the same time the Accelerator started getting deeper into the issue, Architectural Record devoted an issue on the housing crisis in America.  The articles highlight larger cities like New York and San Francisco where demand for housing has skyrocketed to crisis levels.  Our region is not experiencing the crisis of those cities, but there are things we can do locally to improve the delivery and long-term sustainability of our housing markets.

Shelter is a single, but very important, component of the structure of our lives.  As a structural component, it simultaneously impacts and is impacted by other components.  Housing extends beyond simply providing shelter and describes our context of living.  It is important to have some understanding of the framework in which housing is designed, constructed, accessed and occupied in order to address housing problems.


·         Impacted by other costs of living – transport, health care, education, etc.


·         Affordability, access and choice

·         New development in existing neighborhoods


·         At the end of the crisis spectrum

·         Being Proactive vs. Reactive


·         Existing Funding options and challenges

·         Innovative finance tools to maintain homes and construct new

Accessibility and Function of Housing with Case Studies

·         Zoning and design restrictions have an impact on homes and land use

·         Supporting case studies


·         What’s next for us?

We can improve peoples’ livelihood through design. As Architects we are limited to the legal, financial and social constructs that restrict options and suitability. The system is certainly much more complex than above, but we’re going to develop each a little further in our upcoming posts. We will begin a conversation about housing that is accessible to and is practical for the greatest number of our neighbors. Stay tuned.