Housing Designs for New York Small Lots

A design competition focuses on the many tiny and often irregularly shaped vacant lots of New York City.

1 minute read

August 22, 2019, 6:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


Vacant Lot

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Earlier this year, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects teamed up to sponsor the Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC housing design competition. The goal was to design buildings that could take advantage of the city’s more than 10,000 small lots, where lot size and requirements for air, natural light, stairs, and elevators are major challenges.

The competition site was a lot in Harlem that is 17 feet wide and 100 feet deep, reports Diana Budds. "The entries explore experimental building techniques, like mass timber; unconventional layouts, like micro units and split-level studios; and innovative details, like movable walls and communal gardens, that push the boundaries of what HPD typically develops."

The designs provide insight into the possibilities for new and creative ways to build affordable housing, says Budds. "The next challenge—and it’s a big one—is moving these ideas from paper into the real world. Let’s hope the the city’s will to build is as strong as the ideas presented."

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