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Statistical Snapshot: Gentrification / Seattle is #2!

A storefront in the Ballard, one of the visibly-fastest-growing neighborhoods in Seattle. Photo via Creative Commons / Jay Cox.

Boston and Seattle are the two US cities that have gentrified the most between 2000-2007, according to research by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. I stumbled on this article relating gentrification to financial health, and it occurred to me that although gentrification is on everyone’s mind in Seattle these days, I’ve never seen a […]


How Does Airbnb Affect Your City?

Lobby of Airbnb's new diggs in San Francisco. There is a sweet, multi-story Living Wall  on one side.

Airbnb has been on my radar lately as a growing variable in city housing discussions. A few weeks ago I created an account with the service to book a room in Edinburgh as a cheaper – and hopefully more personal – alternative to a hotel. Around the same time, a friend sent me an article […]


Book Review: Common Ground in a Liquid City

Book Review: Common Ground in a Liquid City

A few months ago I picked up Common Ground in a Liquid City off a friend’s shelf. It’s a collection of essays by Matt Hern that are tied together by a few common themes. After reading just a few randomly chosen pages, I can honestly say I now look at differently at cities I visit, […]


Visualizing Street Orientations

Image Credit: Seth Kadish

  This has more to do with data visualization than planning or density, but the concept is so simple and well done, I had to share. Self-proclaimed scientist and data visualizer (visionary?) Seth Kadish has compiled the streets of major U.S. cities and represented them on compass polar coordinates. They remind me of wind roses, […]


A New 704 SF House in Portland, OR

Photo via the NY Times / Aaron Leitz

Articles on the topic of small-space living has become almost commonplace in the mainstream news lately. I’m still not sure if it’s indicative of a real trend, or if it’s an enticing enough subject that whenever someone comes out and builds a novel, small house under 1,000 s.f., it’s worthy of a feature.


Tiny Houses in Idaho and Elsewhere

Tiny House in Idaho designed and constructed by Macy Miller. Photo courtesy of Inhabitat.

NPR had a feature on architect Macy Miller and her 200-s.f. house last week. Although neither the concept nor execution is new, it’s always good to see examples of well built, livable houses in the mainstream media. In this particular house I really like the use of salvaged wood from shipping pallets for the siding, […]


Shipping Container Student Housing

Shipping Container Student Housing

If you, like myself, think that the trend of designing buildings out of shipping containers has dragged on too long, you may be right. However, the Keetwonen student housing city in Amsterdam is worth a look.


Gap House by Pitman Tozer Architects

The Gap House in London, UK. All photos of this house courtesy of Nick Kane.

The Gap House (2007) has been around for several years now, but is one of the first projects that got me excited about small-lot and infill housing.


Iwan Baan: Ingenious Homes in Unexpected Places

Iwan Baan: Ingenious Homes in Unexpected Places

  As a counter to many of the projects covered thus far in, this TED Talk by photographer Iwan Baan delivers some much-needed perspective on planning, housing, design,  human ingenuity, and normalcy.


“The Skinny” – A 12-Foot-Wide House in Seattle

“The Skinny” – A 12-Foot-Wide House in Seattle

I hesitate to call this a small house, because it hides 1400 S.F of floor area behind its svelte, 12-ft wide profile. However, context is everything, and the 2-bedroom home sits in a part of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle, where the average house is more than twice its size. Developed on a subdivided […]


Notes on ‘A History of the Highrise’

3333 Broadway, Tower Block, New York. Photo by pdstahl via Creative Commons / Flickr

The New York Times has a new multimedia presentation called “A Short History of the Highrise.” As an overview of dense, urban living, it’s pretty great. The interactive feature touches on many themes and subjects already addressed in this blog. For example: Social Status. The role of high-rise buildings as instruments of social hierarchy is […]


100-SF Student Housing Prototype by Tengbom

Tengbom's 100-sf student house. All photos in this post  are by Bertil Herzberg and courtesy of Tengbom.

There’s a new, all-wood prototype for student housing on display at the Virserum Art Museum by the Swedish firm Tengbom  (self-proclaimed as the country’s oldest architecture firm). According to the firm, the project is the result of a collaboration between students at the University of Lund, Martinsons, a wood manufacturer, and A.F. Bostäder, a real estate […]


The “End” of Suburbia Debate in the NYTimes

Suburban Sprawl outside Phoenix, AZ. Via Wikimedia/Creative Commons.

There was an article in the New York Times last week covering the current debate over the direction suburban sprawl is taking: Is Suburban Sprawl on its Way Back? It features several statistics that could probably be taken with a grain of salt (e.g. the conversion of farmland has dipped to 800,000 acres per year […]


Kowloon – Once the Densest Place on Earth

Kowloon Walled City circa 1989. Photo by  Jidanni / Wikimedia Creative Commons.

A fantastic series of photos of the old Kowloon Walled City (Hong Kong) has been circulating recently. These were taken over five years by Greg Girard and Ian Lamboth before the city was raised in 1992, to be replaced by a park that occupies the space. The photos may be seen at Girard’s website here. […]


Cubix, San Francisco: Housing Before its Time.

Cubix Micro-apartments in SoMa, San Francisco. Via Creative Commons / Dave Fayram

Cubix is an apartment complex in the Soma neighborhood of San Francisco. Developed by HausBau, It consists of 98 “micro-apartments” that were some of the lowest-priced properties on market at around $280k when introduced in 2008 when SF’s median home price was around $759k. The kicker? The dorm-style studios were – and still are – […]


Democracy at Work: Seattle Passes Pro- and Anti-Density Bills in the Same Session

A typical off-the-shelf design (this circa 2007) that CVS uses in strip malls across America. Via Wikimedia / Creative Commons.

As an example of how fickle (or consistently NIMBY-ish) people can be when it comes to zoning and density, the Seattle City Council passed two measures today – one limiting the densities of certain neighborhoods, and one requiring it. 1. For those neighbors against the construction of “monster houses” on small lots, the city extended […]


Architectural Death Ray: The Perils of Urban Living

Walkie Talkie Building. Creative Commons / Paul Wilkinson via flickr.

  This is not related to small houses, density, or building, but it is so amazing that I need to mention it. The Daily Mail reports that the Walkie Talkie Tower in London is melting bikes, cracked building tiles, and frying eggs, due to the curvature of its facade. There are great photos, diagrams and […]


Home Economics: Affordability and the “Tiny House”

Home Economics: Affordability and the “Tiny House”

Yesterday the Huffington Post  reported that 68 percent of “small-space dwellers” (we must come up with a better term for them) do not have a mortgage, as opposed to 23 percent of all home owners in the United States. The article reposts a well-circulated poster by The Tiny Life blog:       This blog is […]


Small House in Kobe by Fujiwaramuro

Small House in Kobe by Fujiwaramuro

  I love finding houses in obscure, tight or difficult spaces. There’s something satisfying about squeezing every bit of space into something productive, whether in the name of necessity, density, efficiency, or ridiculously high land values. As this house is in urban Japan, I’d guess the latter is the main motivation for building a house on […]


Would You Live in This House?

A typical house in the Vennelyst area of Copenhagen, Denmark. Approx. 85 s.f.

  Or this infill?     This 4-ft-wide house comes as close to compressing your life into two dimensions as any: Yes, that is daylight in the gap. Which makes this home in Seattle seem downright oversized…     Finally, somewhat less outstanding in its context is this sliver of a house in Ahmedabad, India […]