There is a long tradition in design competitions that while the winner is often interesting and practical, all the fun and innovation is in the runners-up. (Think of the Tribune Tower Competition) While I love the winner of the New York micro-unit competition (See Kasia's coverage here), there is a lot to love in the entry by Macro|Sea and Method Design. Like much of the work of David Belt's Macro|Sea (dumpster swimming, anyone?), this isn't a building, it's a party.
DOMICILE, a proposal jointly designed by Macro Sea and Method Design, reimagines the meaning of “home.” At what point does the pressure of rent per square foot and lack of social interaction with our neighbors inhibit our capacity to have “home,” “place,” “community?” DOMICILE contends that as responsible designers and developers, we cannot just shrink or scale down the size of a dwelling unit. .
People need space to cook feasts, greet guests, drink beer, and be happier, more productive citizens. To solve this dilemma, we amputated the space that allows people to nest in a large apartment or home, and gathered that amputated program to a larger shared version, accessible to all residents.
The result is 42 functional living units averaging 300 square feet, that keep individual apartment size to a minimum to focus on thoughtfully programmed, dynamic, and fun common spaces. We firmly believe that just because you live alone doesn’t mean you don’t have a ton of friends.
In some ways, this contradicts the usual urbanist position that the entire city is your living room; this is almost like a cruise ship, with every amenity you need for a good time, rather than your typical apartment building. However it is also part of that trend toward a sharing economy; you don't need to own much in your tiny apartment when you are surrounded by such amenities. I suspect that after a few weeks in this building, the beds are shared too.
To top it all off, they do a little hat tip to Stefano Boeri's vertical forest and cover the exterior with trees.
What about green space? In New York City Quality Housing Standards, there is a requirement for a tree in front of every 25 feet of frontage. We loved this requirement so much that we decided to create a standard where every apartment will have a tree. In a design collaboration with D.I.R.T. Studio, each unit of DOMICILE has a balcony built as a planter for a tree, so no resident lives alone.
There are so many wonderful things going on here, this is a terrific model for a different way to live in a building. Forget single young people, I want to live here. I do think that the competition winner is pretty amazing, and my brain belongs to the nArchitecture/ Monadnock winner. But my heart belongs to DOMICILE.