Tassafaronga Village | David Baker + Partners

• May 27, 2011

This project works on every level, creating a haven for its occupants without forgetting to engage its communities. The team preserved embodied energy by artfully repurposing an existing building. Variety and articulation of different building and unit types are expressed both on the exterior facing the street, as well as the interiors facing the public gathering areas. It admirably achieves every one of the goals the team set out to meet.

2011 AIA Housing Awards jury

This complex development establishes a new green neighborhood that brings a diversity of affordable housing to an under-served area of Oakland, and repairs the deteriorated neighborhood fabric. The 7.5-acre brownfield infill site – previously home to decrepit public housing, an abandoned factory, and unused train tracks—presented an unhealthy living environment and invited criminal activity. Absent and decaying infrastructure isolated and undermined even new improvements being made in the area.

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Tassafaronga Village, courtesy David Baker + Partners | Photo by Steve Proehl

The majority of residents of the existing housing and members of the surrounding community voiced support for the re-imagination of the site. Many of the original relocated tenants have been welcomed back to the new development, and 533 people now call the village home.

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Tassafaronga Village, courtesy David Baker + Partners | Photo by Brian Rose

The new village seamlessly knits into the surrounding urban area, bridging an industrial-residential divide via new amenities and repaired connections. New landscaped walkways and traffic-calming roadways establish links to the once-isolated library, elementary schools, and city park. The openness of the plan and diversity of building types preclude the stigma that often accompanies large blocks of affordable housing, which can pigeon-hole people for poverty.

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Tassafaronga Village, courtesy David Baker + Partners | Photo by Brian Rose

Varied housing types thoughtfully arranged throughout the site lend the village an organic feeling, and ensure a diverse and vigorous residential community. Residents of different means, unidentified as such, live side-by-side, strengthening the social fabric. Modulation of scale creates a peaceful neighborhood that boasts a density three times that of the surrounding city, accommodating the greatest number of families in need and allowing services and amenities to be shared by the largest number of people. This density fosters liveliness and has helped reduce crime rates in this previously desolated area.

The village is anchored by a 60-unit apartment building that includes a living roof atop the development’s community room and services. An unobtrusive parking garage is hidden below a large podium courtyard and housing stoops. The site’s abandoned factory was renovated into supportive apartments and a neighborhood-serving medical clinic. 94% of the building was reused, and 93% of the demolition and construction waste was recycled. Throughout the site, groupings of family townhouses line the roadways and cluster around courtyards, keeping eyes on the street and enhancing the village feel. Two groupings of affordable ownership townhouses – designed on a pro bono basis for Habitat for Humanity East Bay – are integrated into the site as well.

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Tassafaronga Village, courtesy David Baker + Partners | Photo by Brian Rose

Developed by the local Housing Authority, the sustainable project achieved the first LEED ND Gold Certified Plan in California. All of the housing on site is on track for LEED for Homes Platinum certification. The site features a comprehensive storm-water management system. Through a series of complementary sustainable measures, the buildings average 30 to 50% energy savings over California’s already strict energy regulations. It stands as a model of and encouragement for teams considering pursuing LEED ND Certification, and as an example of green principals integrated into affordable housing, within budget, removing the elitism from sustainable building.

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Tassafaronga Village, courtesy David Baker + Partners | Photo by Brian Rose

Tassafaronga exemplifies an innovative, bold, humane, and successful approach to modern urban affordable housing. Urban Design critic John King wrote,

…the buildings are imbued with an adventurous urbanism attuned to larger social and environmental concern straits that should be commonplace, but are all too rare.

+ Project credits / data

Project: Tassafaronga Village
Architect: David Baker + Partners
Location: Oakland, California, USA
Landscape Architect: PGA Design
Structural Engineer: OLMM Consulting Engineers
Electrical Engineer: FW Associates
Lighting Designer: Horton Lees Brogden
MPE: Guttmann + Blaevoet and SJ Engineers
Contractor: Cahill Contractors
Civil Engineer: Sandis
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Brian Rose & Steve Proehl (aerial view), Courtesy of David Baker + Partners

+ All images and drawings courtesy David Baker + Partners

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Category: Architecture, Master Plan, Residential

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