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    ARS-3410 in TUT Autumn 2011
Mid-density housing
Taatala, Tampere, Finland
Housing is always a challenging design task. The first project in my Master Degree Program is concerned about "Mid-density" housing. At the beginning, most of students consider housing design as a familiar subject during their study. From my point of view, this is not a difficult design task.

However, the most challenging topic is about what mid-density housing can be. The building can be hybrid, dynamic typology, for instance some B.I.G projects .e.g., otherwise it can also be shaped in the suburban collective housing as in the mid 60s' modernism housing.
Our studio group received the task to design an area of 5 hectare on Taatala southern of Tampere, Finland. This plot locates on the site of an existing supermarket, which will be demolished in near future. It has good connection with the highway connecting to Helsinki and also the Lempalantie road. On the southern of this plot, they will develop a new areal center with workplaces and commercial stores. The main request is to develop a new residential area, connecting the existing private houses with the developing center.

Some of my group students are concerned about renovation the supermarket, then turning it to be a new hybrid structure for both housing and commercial stores. Some develop the ecological designs, with green terrace open to the south. One guy keeps the existing urban structure in which the single family houses have private gardens.

My main concept is to create an environment for Semi-urban lifestyle. This lifestyle will be the transformation phase from the typical suburban lifestyle to the urban lifestyle. Each flat has a private terrace open to a semi-public courtyard. On the other hand, I am obsessed by the Modulor concept. The housing development will be : "neutral", that means the identity and character does not impose the neighborhood; "car-free" to encourage the pedestrians and cycling inside the plot; "green" or "micro-climate" with small courtyard connecting blocks; "flexible" and "diverse" with wide ranges of flat sizes; and "piazza" with meeting points for new inhabitants.

From this viewpoint, I develop the design solutions, first on the urban structure scale, then the building scale, and last the flat scale. The site runs slightly sloping in the south, up to a small hill. There are three different typologies: the first one combining commercial stores on the ground ( about 4m high) with the flats on the first and second floor; the second one with collective housing; then the last one with detached houses open to the hillside ( see areal section).On the beginning it opens a small square to gather up the existing with the new inhabitants. Furthermore, this small square is flexible for communal events. The collective housing runs next to the small square, with well-serviced blocks and parking lots. I consider also about the contrast between the outside and the inside facade. The semi-public courtyards are considered as the main points lightening up the space, while the outside facades look equal and strong. However, it turns to be a weak point for this project. This plot looks too mechanical and rational, like a machine to live ( obviously an old concept).

My last design concept is concerned about low energy solutions. All blocks have at the most 3 stories without lifts, with assisted living spaces for pensioners or disabilities on the ground floor. I choose the double layer for the facade panels, with black wooden panels  stuck to support frames on the wall. Moreover, I choose passive solar system for the terrace with 2 layers, glass inside and adjustable sliding louvers outside. All flats have private terraces or patios open to the courtyard, with the glazing protection during winter in Finland. Each block has a common space, with sauna on the ground floor and flexible public space for inhabitants. They can decide which activities will be held in that place, such as entertainment space or children playground.

This final design meets my own requirements for semi-urban lifestyle, but too rational and mechanical. I considered to vary the facades with green patios or change the floor height. However, I end up here, first due to the deadline, second due to the contrast concept... It looks almost well-done but not strong enough.

In conclusion, the main point is not about design. It is about what you can offer to the community. I offer a collective space integrating with stores and small offices at some levels. 

This is also my first time with Lumion. A good choice in near future.