Creating high density housing within a relatively small scale residential neighborhood poses many challenges to development, and often results in a delayed approvals process or buildings that appear out of scale with their context. With an understanding of this common problem, and a clear directive from the client for innovative, high density student housing that is both ecologically sensitive and modular in construction, the architects looked to the existing neighborhood development patterns for design direction.
The essential quality of the Berkeley, California neighborhood is characterized by detached houses embedded in continuous gardens. This village is communal, interactive and open. It is this found texture that the architects aim to continue and expand. This grain of dense, yet open living is the model; the type is a garden village of small buildings as opposed to a single monolithic apartment complex.
The project is a richly woven collection of 18 compact buildings immersed in a garden; a student village at the scale and openness of the surrounding fabric. Each building is connected by a ring of exterior walkways, threading the units with a network of gardens, common space, and a professionally operated urban roof farm which will yield 16 tons of produce for residents and the neighboring community each year.
Why it won:
“It’s a good and clever option for student housing, making it really dense and welcoming. The whole allotment, they’re using every millimeter, whether it’s letting light in, or using all the roofscape. I quite like the rigour of it as well and the pre-fab element. It’s tight but I think they’ve worked really hard to make the most out of it.” Lotta Nyman
“This project is not only ambitious beyond its programme for student living, but makes a positive contribution to the wider neighbourhood in both in terms of social cohesion and townscape. The arrangement of buildings is contextually rich in scale and grain, with an inventive circulation strategy . It’s the rooftops which give this project its USP, facilitating elevated, but sheltered communal areas and an impressive market garden.” Carl Vann