Affordable housing for low-income people is a problem worldwide. In the U.S., the affordable housing stock has dropped 60 percent between 2010 and 2016. Demographics are shifting toward smaller, urban rental housing units to accommodate larger numbers of elderly, and single people. Environmentally, building construction is the largest consumer of raw materials and produces 25 to 40 percent of the world’s total carbon emissions. Technically, building materials and techniques have changed very little in 100 years, making conventional construction expensive and inefficient. Due to all of these factors, a new approach must be developed so that low-income people can have decent and affordable places to live. This IPRO will be studying ways to design and build the affordable housing of the future.
This IPRO project has three objectives: (1) Develop housing types, building materials and construction methods for reducing the cost of developing affordable housing in the City of Chicago; (2) Determine the size, topology and siting for these units on vacant sites in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago; and (3) analyze cost reductions that can be achieved by making the housing smaller, manufacturing the housing offsite, making it modular and having each building generate its own power.
The IPRO team will investigate and research the state-of-the-art of housing design and construction concepts, characterize community needs and plans as well as the construction trades and government regulations, and identify insights that can lead to innovative solutions. The IPRO team then will develop various prototypes of affordable, modular, infill housing that are appropriate for vacant lots in the Bronzeville neighborhood. Each of the prototypes will be evaluated to determine their potential for creating affordable, sustainable, low-energy, healthy and durable housing for underserved residents in Chicago. The resulting findings will be used to develop a business case for introducing a contemporary approach to providing affordable, modular and sustainable housing in Chicago, beginning in Bronzeville.