Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sustainable and Affordable

The American Institute of Architects just gave the National Honor Award to Kanner Architects in Los Angeles for their design of affordable, sustainable housing. The 26th Street Low Income Housing Project in Santa Monica is a contemporary and clean modern structure with 44 units. It's integrated into the neighborhood, close to shops and transit, and it uses simple design techniques like natural ventilation. By orienting the building so that it captures the cross ventilation off of the ocean, the architects minimize cooling costs and the need for unsightly and noisy HVAC units on the roofs. An irrigation system captures rain water to irrigate landscaping and mitigates storm water run off into the ocean.

AIA noted that, "In addition to input from the City of Santa Monica and the community at large, the final design incorporates the region’s mild climate, historical precedents of Southern California Modernist architecture, and the human scale of residents and pedestrians."

They go on to call it a "ray of hope" for affordable housing in the U.S. "The architects used the light and breezes, which are free, wonderfully. The building is beautiful in a clean-scrubbed way while creating a safe haven. The design extends beyond the property line by addressing critical social issues."