URBAN STRINGS

Location: North Lawndale, Chicago, USA
Client: Chicago Architectural Club
Collaborator: Adam Lubinsky

[ URBAN DESIGN / HOUSING ]
[ 0521 ]

Competition for new housing in Lawndale, Chicago, USA. The scheme proposes urban ‘strings’ of new mews-like streets threading across Chicago’s wide grey-stone street grid, bringing much-needed density and services to the impoverished Lawndale area. Lined with economical low rise housing, the strings align to form protected routes to proposed schools at the neighbourhood scale.

The Neighbourhood Network asserts that the combination of family housing and strong schools creates sustainable neighbourhoods. This proposal develops a site-specific strategy for a pedestrianised network of new family housing and small schools as a means to supporting North Lawndale's diverse population of many cultures and incomes. 

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The Neighbourhood Network begins with an urban increment that links through and across city blocks with the development of clusters of vacant lots. This increment reinvents the "mews" - originally stables created behind the houses facing the street. While mews have historically been converted into houses, this proposal makes the modern mews an essential element in linking clusters of family housing along walkable paths to neighbourhood schools. 

The mews has been applied in three variations.

  • The first variation is a string of two-storey family units. These units form an intimate social grouping of homes overlooking a pedestrian route through the block with new pocket parks at the block's perimeter. Each two-storey unit is efficiently designed to contain three bedrooms and a terrace garden with the potential to expand upward.
  • The second variation utilises the mews for family housing and where there are additional vacant lots adjacent to the mews employs L-shaped apartment buildings along the street-front. These buildings, employing unit types for singles and couples, would begin to fill out the blocks. 
  • The third variation employs the mews for new schools. Drawing from the 'Small Schools' movement, these schools - for 200 students and grades K-4 or 5-8 - would link to the new housing and be open to all residents. Each school would offer a unique facility, allowing public use and fitting within a network of services shared by surrounding existing schools.
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