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Affordable Housing Competition in NYC, NY

Quality housing in New York City is a critical issue that many New Yorkers deal with daily. In our studio, we believe housing designs are not simply following a government agencies basic requirements and regulations, but also understanding all the other givens of a project, especially the end-users current and future needs.



5,175 SF
Units: 7

Manhattan, New York



SPEARHEAD Architecture & Design + Politi & Siano Architects

Space planning & schematic design 



The design called for us, in partnership with Politi & Siano Architects, to create a series of flexible studio spaces. These units were developed within two simple volumes: a horizontal volume which addressed the context of the existing street edge, and a vertical volume that maximized the F.A.R., as well as provided excellent views of the city.

This concept can be easily seen and understood as soon as one arrives on site. The Entry Garden, Lobby, and Communal Garden are spatially linked together allowing for an uninterrupted view of the entire site, making it feel larger and more expansive. This spatial experience is also relevant on the upper floors.


Corten steel





fiber cement panels.jpg

Fiber cement



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The site(s) for this design competition are extremely challenging given their size(s) and shape(s). The design team focused on innovative design decisions based on the following areas: Zoning, Community, Adaptability, Construction Technology, Material Selection, Sustainability, and Cost. A critical piece to the design was the material selections for both the interior and exterior finishes. During this process a variety of attributes were considered and here were the parameters we reviewed: cost, product durability, performance and aesthetics, as well as health, environmental and sustainability impacts, such as indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and carbon footprint.

Sustainable design principles developed for the design are as follows:
1. Optimize site potential. (Daylighting, Prevailing Winds, Solar Gain)
2. Minimize non-renewable energy consumption. (Photovoltaic)
3. Use environmentally preferable products. (CLT, Fiber Cement Board) 4. Protect and conserve water. (Collecting storm and grey water)
5. Enhance indoor environmental quality. (Low VOC products)
6. Optimize operational and maintenance practices. (Durable products)

Given that the design competition calls for “replicability across one or more sites,” we created a modular system that can be adapted to each site. Depending on the site’s needs, modular units can be added and/or subtracted.


During the design process, the spatial compositions both inside and outside, as well as the form(s) were studied for movement, light, materiality, and flexibility. The overall forms are intriguing, but even more interesting are the spatial compositions between and within these forms - the negative space. It is here, where the end-user is experiencing life, and more importantly interacting with the tangibles and Intangibles of life.

As Designers, we are the final narrators of the spatial stories we create. We develop a plot, characters and even a timeline, but never finish the story entirely - that is left to those who experience and interact within our composition. Hopefully, the users become inspired and enjoy living within these volumes that identify as their environment. An environment that is unique, positive, inspiring, and just simply enjoyable. A place of quality; a place that services its residence, as well as providing a sense of community.


Project Treehouse


Project TB

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