Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Client: Cook Inlet Housing Authority
Team: Ron Bateman, Petra Sattler-Smith
Situated between a shopping center, an industrial district, and a trailer park, this affordable housing project comprises 70 dwelling units and a community center on a lot split by a steep hill into two levels. By constraining development to the upper level, the project takes advantage of stunning mountain views while optimizing infrastructural economies.
This contraint also yields higher density, which, in conjunction with the townhouse typology creates a sense of interiority and neighborhood, buffered from the busy adjacent road and non-residential neighbors. To that end, the 70 residences are divided into 14 buildings arranged along an arcing ‘boulevard’, parallel to the existing road, encouraging pedestrian traffic. Three wide axes cross the boulevard, framing mountain views to passersby. To lend a sense of ownership to tenants, each dwelling has a front door at the ground level, and large common parking areas are avoided. The townhouses are well-suited to the northern climate with heated garages and floor-to-ceiling windows that allow the winter sun to penetrate deep into the home.
Alternation between three-story townhouse blocks for families and one-story accessible units for seniors compliments the density with a lively variety in scale and invites young and old to cross paths. The relationships between the two building types are also designed to optimize solar exposure for the photovoltaic and solar thermal systems integrated into the building forms.
The community center sits at the south end of the site at a public intersection. Its position and playful, bold form assert a strong public presence, with the main entry facing the development at the end of the boulevard. The floorplan arranges neighborhood functions around two exterior courts, one north and one south. The north court is the welcoming access to the community center, service offices, preschool, and shared laundry facilities. The south court, in contrast, is only encountered once well inside the building. Flanked by a community meeting room and the pre-school classrooms, the court floods both with light and sun. The visual connection between the two spaces again encourages exchange between this community’s young and old.