Architecture and the Housing Crisis

A new book brings architects into the housing discussion.

1 minute read

September 25, 2023, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

High-rise modern apartment buildings with green space in front courtyard with outdoor exercise equipment.

SOLOTU / Adobe Stock

In an adapted excerpt from his book Practice with Purpose: A Guide to Mission-Driven Design, republished in Next City, Bill Leddy calls on architects to get involved in the housing conversation.

Architecture has an important role to play in addressing the housing crisis. Well-designed affordable housing is just as critical to the health and vitality of our communities as any other building type. It deserves the same creativity and devotion from architects as any museum, library, or school.

Leddy suggests some concrete strategies for architects. These include designing with community and public spaces in mind: “Including generous community rooms, garden courts, and supportive service spaces will invite residents to gather, linger, and socialize. The buildings themselves can both contribute to and symbolize an inclusive, diverse community.”

Leddy also notes the need to balance cost efficiency with elevated design. “Individual units need to be simple and compact, but when they are assembled creatively — like a three-dimensional puzzle rather than a one-dimensional box — they can add interest to the building massing.” Leddy also suggests a focus on natural light and air quality; energy efficiency; and resilience efforts that protect residents from extreme weather as ways that architects can contribute to building more resilient, affordable, and socially sustainable housing.

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