'Bridge in The Sky'

 Social Housing

Russian Housing Development Institution DOM. RF.

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The proposal is to build a linear block of flats that will act as a socially integrated terrace, raised into the sky and situated within a “bridge”. A terrace allows one to meet neighbours - this is a terrace in the sky. To locate this block of flats four storeys above the ground, will allow the landscape below to be open to sunlight and the growth of trees and planting below. This “bridge” will require high “towers” to support the Verendeel beams that will hold the units above. Alternatively, the raised housing will also allow the ”bridge” to be above any existing industrial units or train lines- so would be ideal for both brown field sites and open landscapes or forests. The ground could be adapted for leisure, industry or ecological purposes. Another benefit of the raised housing would be the provision of parking and a large variety of communal facilities below- that can be created due to the space that has been freed. It is proposed that the towers will act as “social condensers” and offer a variety of communal facilities; that can be easily changed and chosen by each beams residents. It is also proposed that each unit has shared space on the roof terrace where gardens, a running track or maybe pools could be located. The proposal would suit almost any location as its footprint is so small due to the footprint being simply the bases of the supporting, circulation towers.

At the base of each supporting tower there is the entrance, which is left open for bicycle storage. Here there is a lift and staircase. As one progresses up the tower one has access to the variety of facilities that will be located in the towers. We have proposed in one tower for example a gym, a washing room, a crèche, a sauna, a trampoline with the trampoline being the ceiling above the gym and a workshop. Other more relevant or desired facilities would be catered for here. All units are accessed by a single corridor, which will bring residents together and will be enclosed, offering panoramic views over the surroundings. This corridor, like any terraced street, is where post boxes

are located and would be wide enough to accommodate communal dispensers, games and furniture. The single bed studio units are accessed directly off the corridor, whilst the double bed studio units and duplexes are accessed above and below the corridor. At either end there are four bedroom family units - in which it is envisaged that the bridges monitors or concierges are located. These concierges will manage the bridge’s blog/website and virtual notice boards that will inform residents what is happening on the bridge on a daily basis. For example, should a resident have extra food prepared then this could be sold on or exchanged for another residents’ skills/offerings. The concierge also supervises what activities or rentals are desired or required by the residents. A sort of micro social economy could flourish which would both bring people together and help those young and old who have skills be able to share them and offer their skills to society.

Housing should not be seen in isolation of the community as the above responds to. But it should also relate to the physical context. “The Sky Bridge” has three elements that can be used to link itself to the city, town or landscape in which it is built. Firstly as this block is

linear it can be located in such a way to extend a nearby existing street, train line, line of trees or river. By extending what exists “The Sky Bridge” therefore becomes linked to an existing fabric or context; in a more integrated way or more knitted way than say a block would be able to. Secondly the feet can act as social energisers linking residents to life on the ground. The carefully chosen locations of where the towers or feet of the bridge touch-down creates social place making opportunities for local areas; as these feet are connected to multiple homes and residents and can be used to activate a square or streetscape or park for example. In this proposal we have shown how a

square situated at ground level with municipal opportunities could be established to service the bridge’s community and to energise the square with residents and out of town visitors coming to shop, study, meet or play. The geometry can vary dependent on the context and location. Thirdly, The Sky Bridge can act as a visual marker and orientation device, much like a sign post to point towards a local feature, or for its length to be aligned with a view.

The key to long life and health has been shown in surveys to stem from being socially connected. This proposal allows for communal facilities internally and the housing is externally linked to surrounding spaces, in such a way, that the dweller is never isolated from shared spaces where folk can meet. Here the outside spaces nearby are as important as the internal spaces. So, the parameters and dimensions that the brief highlighted are as important as the socially valuable spaces. This proposal will make socially as well as dimensionally and economically valuable contributions to almost any location – due to it’s social opportunities and not simply the parameters of unit areas

set in the competition brief. So this proposal has considered a whole “scenario” of how this housing and its users and surrounding can be integrated. The envisaged users are predominantly either single (older or student ages), or young couples. The “nuclear” four person family has not been fully catered for- as the need for integrating the increasingly lonely and single person is becoming more profound- especially as an ageing population are single, young people are increasingly alone and the family is becoming increasingly dispersed. So for this competition entry the residents are seen as couples or individual residents and their needs have been considered outside of simply what

their apartments interiors’ can provide and looks outside the home to include the public realm for interaction. In this project the collective and of different groups of neighbours are more important as social factors than the required dimensions cited and asked for in the DOM brief. Internal space is important - but not at the cost of social space- as we are predominantly social creatures.

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