Diana Mingyuan Yang
Architecture & Housing
“Three defining features of sprawl as low density, low land use mix and low connectivity. If automobiles made low density possible, then zoning laws enshrined the separation of different land uses that typifies many metropolitan areas.” Howard Frumkin
With the development of automobile suburbs from the 1920s onwards, our overall pattern of settlement became more and more diverse changing our commuting patterns and methods of employment. With the spreading distribution of employment and low proximity of communities, new forms of low density residential architecture became prevalent. Resulting in cheaper houses on larger lots, creating a less dense distribution of land use.
This in turn led to ‘residential deserts’ which were devoid of active busy neighbourhoods, created and re-enforced by generations of zoned planning policies. Frumkin defines zoning as “the practice of allocating different areas of cities for different uses, much as rooms in a house serve different functions.” Jane Jacobs argues that zoning (i.e. into residential, industrial and commercial areas) destroys the possibilities of strong communities and any form of innovative economics.
The key therefore is to solve this issue of low land use mix, which in turn will lead to a higher density of land use, and alleviate current predicaments of low connectivity. Thus the design scheme questions the nature of how we work and how we live, leaving our houses empty all day and our workplaces empty all night. Can we afford this duplicate wastage of precious space? How can we bring life’s disparate functions together?
The Live/Work housing proposes an amalgamation of commercial and residential spaces, creating a new innovative housing typology that eliminates the need for extensive commutes and alleviates the low density disconnected nature of modern suburban housing. It addresses three different forms of work: private, semi-public, public; and how they can function collaboratively, ultimately bringing life’s disparate functions back together. The masterplan seeks to create 24 hour inhabited, socially engaged and active neighbourhoods to sustain and benefit these Live/Work communities. As a result, a new urban model of living is created resolving issues of low density, low land use mix and low connectivity for the better of the individual and community.