SubUrban Urbanisms: Hybridizing Architecture

Norwich, Connecticut USA



Formalizing the informal urbanization of suburban homes by migrant Asian casino workers

The project challenges the use and form of the American single family house as a cultural, economic, and social ideal. Abstracting principles from the everyday practices produced by the dislocated culture, pragmatic values, and socioeconomic limitations of these recent immigrants, the ethnographic and architectural analysis culminates in the design for a communal housing model. The model hybridizes single family high-rise low-density towers and a low-rise high-density social matt, to provide the architectural framework for appropriation/habitation. Holistic sustainabilities are achieved that combine resiliency with flexibility.

Special thanks to Bea Camacho, Brendan Kellogg, Patrick Hamon.  

Formalizing the Informal: A New Model for Communal Housing
Applying principles derived from Chinese workers' conversions of single family homes into multifamily communities 

Existing suburban tract homes 

Existing suburban tract homes transformed by Chinese migrant casino workers 

Single family form; Multifamily use 

Concept: Hybridizing single/multi family housing using suburban/urban models
Rotating and multiplying the raised ranch plan in section to combine benefits of single/multi family housing  

Hybridizing suburban/urban models to revitalize a 19th C downtown fabric 

Riverfront elevations: 2' x 2' windows creates an ambiguous reading of the building's scale. Color panels correlate with the cardinal directions and serve as a wayfinding device 

Section of the main programs: parking, big box store, communal living, and single room occupancy towers 

Section of the main programs, detail 

Building spans existing infrastructure and connects Main Street to the waterfront 

Building masks existing infrastructure to activate the riverfront 

Lower Level Plan: suburban big box store, waterfront liner of communal spaces  

Upper Level Plan: bus depot, restaurant, day care, loading, and future passenger rail station 

Communal Living Plan: kitchens, dining, courtyards, storage, and living 

Single Resident Occupancy Unit Plans: towers embedded within rooftop productive gardens 

Mixed use/mixed type: hybridizing suburban/urban tropes and formal/informal economies through leased local pop-up stores within the corporate big box 

Atrium integrates all public levels and opens to the Shetucket riverfront 

Communal kitchens provide returns in scale and shared efficiencies, and supplement the kitchenettes in the SRO towers above 

Communal living level's open plan provides a flexible framework for appropriation 

Curtains further subdivide the space to create multiple layers of public and private space within tower bedrooms 

2' deep angled recesses keep winter sunlight in and summer solar heat gain out. The angled recesses also create
a seemingly random composition of apertures on the interior, while maintaining the reading of a regular grid on the exterior.