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The Brief: Affordable Housing That's Both Contextual and ‘Funky’ (Upenn)

Undergraduate architecture students and community members strike a balance for a proposed development in historic Germantown.
Elevated Urban Village by Sarah Borders, Natalie Kung, and Leean Li

The corner of Germantown Avenue and Coulter Street in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood is currently occupied by a small parking lot behind a short row of shops on the campus of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. But through a nascent partnership between the church and the Northwest Community Land Trust, the site could someday be transformed into a mixed-use apartment building with affordable housing units serving neighborhood families.

Last fall, a group of fourth-year students in the undergraduate architecture program had a chance to run with that concept as part of a community design workshop called Germantown Housing Justice. The studio, led by Presidential Associate Professor of Architecture Rashida Ng at Weitzman and chair of the undergraduate architecture program, and co-taught by Brian Szymanik, principal of Studio 6mm and a lecturer at Weitzman, directed students to “consider opportunities to redress historic racial inequities in housing while promoting resilience, supporting climate adaptation, and fostering healthy communities.”


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