Project Description

Nomination, H.I. Feldman Prize

Palazzina is a medium scale building that offers affordable housing for middle-income freelance workers in San Francisco. Suitable to the existing density of the city, the intermediate scale of the project, which sits between the townhouse and the tower, enables independent inhabitants to form residential cooperatives. Limiting the size of the community supports effective sharing of space and domestic tasks, engendering a collective consciousness that is essential for the precarious worker of the disenfranchised middle-class. While the project is contextual in scale, the autonomy of the building is made evident by its cubic form and isotropic façade. The regularity of the exterior clearly marks a limit to the city and conceals the project’s unique spatial and social interior.

The nine-square grid defines the plan of the project. The walls between the square rooms are thickened, to create a poché space that accommodates the biological functions of living. Within this compact territory, private living cells border the façade whereas shared kitchens, storage and dining areas are centrally located. Circular rooms act as inhabitable vestibules that mediate the transition between the private cells and the centralized shared facilities. In contrast to the highly prescriptive poché space, the eight squares on the border of the plan are empty and double height. This type of generic space is particularly valuable to freelance workers who lack the structure of a conventional work environment. Devoid of the demands of household management, the un-programmed, but formally specific outer squares permit sovereign interaction between individuals, engendering entrepreneurial collaboration, solidarity and political action. The center square, which is indisputably unique, contains a monumental circular staircase that establishes a collective center for the community and affirms the wholeness of the architectural object.  The distinct formal difference between the generic squares and the compressed realm of biological maintenance legibly communicates the social and political structure of the project.