2017 Residential Architect Design Awards
Affordable Housing | Citation
The Waldo Duplex was designed and built by the fifth-year students of the El Doreado-led Kansas State University Design+Make Studio. Located amid the single-family bungalows and shotgun homes of the Waldo neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., the 1,500-square-feet structure provides two units of affordable housing in a diverse and dynamic setting. “They really studied the typologies of the local community and brought that into their thinking about street life and transitions into a home,” Katherine Chia said. “You can see the research that these students did.”
The simple gable roofed structure is clad in corrugated metal siding and roofing—a nod to the tight budget as well as vernacular construction. Each two-bedroom unit is laid out for maximum efficiency with services located between the units. While some partitions were necessary for privacy within each unit, the feeling of an open-plan space was achieved by topping the walls with translucent panels that maximize natural light in each room. The open kitchen, dining, and living rooms are located at the front of the structure, and connect to the front porches via large glass walls.
The porches provide individual identity for each of the two units, and extend forward from the base building, sheltered by horizontal wood siding and slats.
The project was built for a total construction cost of $290,000, which will permit affordable rents for two moderately low-income families who make less than 80 percent of area median income. The young designers suggest that the project poses the idea that affordability and thoughtful architecture are not mutually exclusive. Our jury agrees: “I like this enormously—the materiality is really great,” R. Michael Graham said.
Visit ARCHITECT to see the rest of the winners of the 2017 Residential Architect Design Awards.
FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
Waldo is a diverse and dynamic neighborhood in southern Kansas City. Once the southern extent of the city’s former streetcar line, Waldo doesn’t play by the rules of conventional urbanism or City Beautiful urban planning but has flourished nonetheless. The major commercial and industrial corridor along Wornall Road, Waldo’s major thoroughfare, is immediately flanked by established neighborhoods of single-family bungalows and shotgun homes. In this “anything goes” neighborhood exist opportunities for typological experimentation and architectural innovation. The Waldo Duplex was designed and built to be a solution to a significant if unexpected problem in Metropolitan Kansas City. Rent is rising at a rate higher than the national average, negatively impacting lower-income neighborhoods like Waldo. Most intriguingly, the Waldo Duplex was designed and built by a group of 5th-year architecture students from a nearby university as part of their final year studio project. Targeting only households making less than 80% of area median income and implementing rent controls, this project will be home for two moderately low-income families that want to live and work in Waldo, but otherwise, could not afford to. This project suggests that a maligned architectural typology — the duplex — can be built affordably without sacrificing architectural integrity. With an “all in” budget of $290,000 (not including the cost of land), the project sought to provide affordable rents while satisfying the clients’ economic model. The building challenges both the historic and the modern typology of the duplex. This building type was conceived to meet housing needs in lower-income municipalities and neighborhoods. While developers today use the duplex model in a way that creates suburban neighborhoods with no identity whatsoever, the Waldo Duplex looks to the inherent benefits of duplex construction but works to redefine the building typology. Traditional duplexes isolate their tenants on either side of a partition wall. The Waldo Duplex unites them through the tradition of the front porch. In a larger sense, this project seeks to understand why affordable housing solutions often fall short. Typical affordable housing design only advances perceptions of inequality rather than fights them. This project suggests that affordability and thoughtful architecture are not mutually exclusive. It is the beginning of an important conversation. Can we build affordably, satisfy a strict economic model, and support the dignity of the residents? The accommodation of diverse incomes by the Waldo Duplex continues the dichotomy that defines this neighborhood today. Projects like this will ensure that Waldo maintains its unique character long into the future.