“affordable”

just a thought….

In our current linguistic era, we find definition through repeated assumptions. “Green,” “Sustainability,” “Performative” have too often been cherry picked for their one-liner definition. And more political settings, the term “affordability” can strike both a high and low note.

“Affordability” is “being within the financial means of most people”, or in its simplest definition, “costing little.” It often evokes a sense of modularity, light assembly, micro, and aggregates. But why is that always the overriding connotation of it? One after another, design competition winners exhibit pod-like structures, shipping containers, or module clusters as a part of their affordability planning.

What if affordability can be achieved through an interchange between different households with varying financial strata? Because of its financial nature, the business model becomes the key player. The “new affordable” project doesn’t necessarily have to be bounded by its low budget. An exchange of services between two neighborhoods can help bridge the financial gap. Services either as environmental filters or climate data sensors, though may drive a project’s budget beyond its intended limit, the cost difference can potentially be made up through neighborhood subsidies. Affordability comes through projects that become infrastructures that go beyond their own purposes and physical boundaries. Affordable housing can become housing plus infrastructure for the city. Does it also become an emergency gathering space, a water supply, or a a research center? This business model recognizes the limitations of per-unit infrastructures within the existing fabric and instead taps into new development that have both site and scale potentials to support the new and existing sites.

In an attempt to resolve the issue of affordability, its definition expands and is redefined to also include a sense of accessibility. Affordable housing is one that would allow for its city neighbors to tap into its resources in exchange for a subsidized start-up cost.

affordable

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