Key Takeaways from UrbanPlan Columbus
On June 7th, ULI Atlanta traveled to Columbus, GA to host an UrbanPlan exercise for Georgia Forward's Young Gamechangers.
Housing Innovation Program 2023
Last Thursday, ULI Atlanta hosted a housing innovation program with speakers from a top Danish design firm, a Cornell University professor responsible for the National Zoning Atlas, and an NYC-based co-living pioneer to share their thoughts and work on housing innovation around the country and across the world. Their collective wisdom helped to provide outside perspective on a conversation here in Atlanta – although one could argue we are ripe with innovative housing examples, from the ULI award winning Cottages on Vaughan to the work of PadSplit, Kronberg Urbanists Architects, and even the Atlanta Land Trust, to name a few. Here is a summary of the discussion during ULI’s event.
Co-Living Increases Housing Availability and Developer Return
When thinking about co-living, or shared living, most people think back to their college days having roommates and a shared living space in either a dorm or an apartment. While this co-living strategy is almost exclusive to college towns, Phillip Newsom and Common Living, Inc have taken the idea of shared living spaces and have effectively applied it to larger cities where real estate developers may struggle to meet housing availability needs such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. In these markets, which mostly offer standard studios or one to two-bedroom apartments in the multifamily space, co-living provides an alternative solution that has numerous benefits for both developers and renters. Co-living is an option available to existing unit mixes meaning that for the same space and square footage, a developer generates more NOI by having multi-family style leases. Renters in turn reap the benefits provided by companies like Common and Atlanta-based Padsplit by easing the shared living process with private rooms, lowering utility fees, and including internet costs. Padsplit does a phenomenal job of capturing member stories of how co-living helped them rebuild and save for the future.
Manipulating Shape to Create Space
In the classic arcade game Tetris, players learn that arrangement means everything when valuing limited space. Kai-Uwe Bergman and the architects at Bjarke Ingels Group, or BIG, have used this principle to design innovative buildings and unit shapes to maximize usable living space in their developments. Whether it be in the form of bike paths, units, or hallways, by rethinking how existing buildings and housing styles can be arranged, BIG has designed projects that increase housing availability while simultaneously fostering community connection.
In 2015, BIG designed Urban Rigger, a buoyant storage container housing unit for 3, by rethinking typical container homes and land usage. In harbor towns, like Copenhagen, Denmark, the water comes at a cheaper price than the limited available land. By changing the design layout of container homes into a triangle shape with a shared courtyard it allowed for more tenant space and increased functionality/sustainability by introducing rainwater collectors, thermal heating, solar panels, and a shared space to connect.
The Movable Line of Zoning Restrictions
Zoning and building codes were established in 1916 to protect homeowners’ investments by restricting where factories could and could not be built. In cities like Atlanta, zoning codes were quickly exploited to economically segregate communities after racial codes were struck down by the Supreme Court in 1917 – however communities were still segregated through red lining and other restrictive covenants well into the 1960’s when redlining was abolished with the Fair Housing Act. Today, you can see the legacy of redlining through the lens of historically black neighborhoods going through massive reinvestments and the displacement of legacy residents.
Scott Markley and the National Zoning Atlas have taken on the mission to analyze zoning code texts and maps throughout the country to close the knowledge gap historically used against socially disadvantaged groups. By doing so, they are helping educate groups about the context around zoning and how they can promote zoning reform in their communities
These efforts by the National Zoning Atlas are similar to ULI’s UrbanPlan which teaches participants how urban development is a byproduct of the planning decisions made with the input of city officials, developers, and communities. In providing communities with the information to protect themselves and their communities, all sides of development can be properly informed to make decisions that work for all parties involved.
Read more about UrbanPlan here.
ULI Atlanta would like to extend a special thanks to the Programs Committee, and especially Ellen Garland of Silver Studio Architects and Sal Lalani at TVS Design for curating and executing this amazing program. Sal also served as the moderator and secured TVS Design’s sponsorship of the event. We appreciate their efforts on behalf of the organization to elevate this conversation and think BIG!