By living in cities we often have to choose between livability, sustainability and affordability. However, that is not the case in the new project presented by the SPACE10 Research and Design Lab, EFFECT Architects and IKEA, which promises to unite the three under one roof.
Building on years of research, the project tackles a simple question: how can human communities thrive in the 21st century while respecting nature and using the benefits of modern technology? The Urban Village Project sets out to explore this idea, providing visionary descriptions and rich 3D visuals for imagining those possibilities.
The premise is to find partners that are willing to explore such opportunities in real life. The creators believe that “living a sustainable life shouldn’t feel like a burden, but like a natural part of life.” And they want to achieve this by “rethinking the design, management and life cycle of our built environment.”
At the core of this vision is living in small neighborhoods supplied with 12 shared services and facilities, which fit “people of all ages, backgrounds, and living situations”. These include a shared living room and kitchen, co-working and event spaces, as well as fitness and playscape areas.
Every such neighborhood would also have sensory gardens for recreation, retail, health clinics, and farms. Ebike stations and maker spaces are also considered to be a must.
Among key sustainable solutions, the project relies on renewable energy, water harvesting, tool-lending libraries, local food production and the composting of food leftovers, as well as digital apps that grant access to community services. The neighborhoods would also rely on circular design principles, with all of the buildings and items being easy to disassemble, repair, replace and recycle.
In terms of actual living, the idea is to offer flexible housing fit for particular needs. Apartment options range from 36sqm for single people to 144sqm for families with three children. The buildings would be made from cross-laminated sustainable timber, which the founders consider a much better fit for human health and the planet than buildings made from steel frames filled with concrete.
To make all of this affordable, the project will use a prefabricated modular building system that would be mass-produced and funded by investors that don’t seek short-term profits, like pension funds, sustainable businesses, and municipalities. Project founders would further seek to transition those properties to community ownership with each person or family taking financial ownership at the scale and pace they can afford.
Even with a wealth of futuristic sustainable developments hitting the market in recent years, this new project seems to stand out by focusing on things that matter. It balances between shiny eco-luxury and utopian ecovillage ideas and provides a decent response to the global urbanization challenge.
Hopefully, we can soon see this visionary project taking off the ground in real life.