SPLENDID VACANCIES stresses the critical role of public vacant and under-utilized urban land in countering current trends of city-making and builds on past initiatives and design studies focused on the potential of small-scale infill housing to contribute to urban centers affordable housing needs.
Undervalued by developers due to their small size and odd shapes, most of these lots represent a viable alternative to suburban sprawl and serve as the ideal background for experimentation with alternative modes of collective living where use value is prioritized over commodity form, making the resultant buildings less fungible as assets.
SPLENDID VACANCIES is an ongoing collection of small-scale urban housing prototypes that, occupying leftover spaces and reacting to specific conditions of different cities and their neighborhoods across the US, explore the potential of alternative ways of initiating, funding and operating buildings dedicated to housing in metropolitan centers.
The first case study is NYC, a city that is well known by its socio-economic inequalities, the prevalence of unoccupied public land, and a long-lasting housing crisis, among other pressing issues, and therefore, a fertile site for experimentation on housing alternatives, new collective forms, and urban ground activation.
The prototype has been conceived as a repeatable structure that can be implemented in different sites, mainly long and narrow, and in various configurations throughout the city, becoming potential nodes of activity within the neighborhoods.
The first two implementations, A HOUSE LIKE US and A BLENDED HOME, occupy public vacant lots owned by New York City Department of Housing, Preservation, and Development in Upper Manhattan, in Harlem and El Barrio neighborhoods.