Student outcomes II – WooMin Lee

WooMin Lee really looked at this project with an emphasis on designing a social landscape, interested in connecting up the smaller spaces to increase the number of social interactions across the building.

Tackling the idea of subdivision at its root (dividing space into smaller and smaller spaces), WooMin’s proposal attempted to connect these spaces, particularly through access routes. The hope is that the architecture encourages a flow of people through the spaces, in turn offering the residents of the site opportunities to meet and interact as they go about their day.

The design is made up of four houses, multi-storied and one on each corner of the site. The buildings are connected by an elevated bridge structure, and the functions that the building offers are broken down into three sort of ‘sharing zones’ – the residential, the communal, and the neighbourhood. Communal building facilities such as a laundry and daycare are on the first floor all accessible via the bridge. The ground floor is designed to cater for not only the residents of the site, but to bring in the neighbourhood. The buildings open out onto a central courtyard, providing outdoor space, and also house ‘neighbourhood’ scale things like a café.

The building therefore not only encourages circulation of the residents around the site, but the circulation people around the neighbourhood. This sort of social landscape understands that part of creating an efficient building is encouraging the use of every single part of the space, and encouraging a lot of movement around the building is a step towards this.

WooMin’s proposal also presents itself as a kind of ‘new villa model’ – just as the suburb is currently populated by many variations of the villa which gives the street a certain unity through variations on the one model, WooMin also considers the possibility that her building could be a model for other sites in the suburb, with slight variations. In terms of housing affordability too, this could be an effective way to design and build for affordable higher density, avoiding the higher costs of one-off bespoke architecture.

With the neighbourhood level spaces on the ground floor, one can imagine the circulation of people around several such buildings in the street with each site offering a different mix of businesses and services. What this proposal offers is a halfway step – a design which steps cautiously toward higher density housing, carefully considering its social implications and opportunities.

By Emma Ng