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Sugar Hill Housing - Detroit, MI - HFC1573

HFC - 1573
Lawrence Technological University / us United States
2 members
Andrew Stone
Jo Lewandowski

The Sugar Hill District, located in the Lower Woodward neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan holds about 4% of Detroit’s population. The district is comprised of hospitals, churches, and mixed-use apartment complexes. Low-income senior housing is placed sporadically throughout the district. With the median income in the City of Detroit being far below the national average, and with Detroit’s crumbling infrastructure, the Sugar Hill site is ideal for a sustainable low-income housing development. The specific site, located on Garfield between John R and Woodward Avenue is a currently vacant lot used as overflow parking for a nearby residential building. The previous buildings on the site have burned down, leaving yet another large vacant lot in the desolate emptiness of the Motor City. A new low-income residential development is appropriate in the historic jazz district of Sugar Hill.
The design consists of three separate buildings connected by a second floor bridge to allow for residents of the development to traverse between buildings and access amenities. From the beginning of the design process the utilization of solar energy was paramount. Given the solar exposure on the site, passive solar heating of the residential units was a feasible design strategy. The residential units have a southern wall that is angled to face south in order to maximize solar heat gain in the winter. To ensure all residential units received sunlight the height of the southern building was limited to two stories so as to not cast shadows on the northern residential buildings. The first floors of the buildings incorporate space for the community. A bike share station serves those living in the complex as well as employees of the surrounding businesses and offices, including the nearby VA hospital. This green-transit option allows for a reduction in the dependence of automobiles, as well as transit options for residents not owning a car. In addition to bikes, residents also have access to a number of bus stops and the planned M-1 Light Rail system half a block away. An incubator office space and incubator retail space allow residents and members of the community to open up small businesses to help better their financial situation while the community space allows for educational and social programs to help enrich the lives of the residents.
Due to the use of reclaimed materials, the building is able to take on the vernacular of the place in which it is built. By doing so, the building helps to further respond to its context even if the form in and of itself is unable to fit in to the context. Detroit has a number of schools and houses that are being demolished, giving the city an abundance of brick and wood to be used for building. As such, the structure utilizes those materials when built in Detroit. This materiality flexibility allows the building to not only be developed in well-developed cities with a great deal of low-income individuals, but also under-developed communities that are lacking in new building resources.

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