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Green housing can be beautiful and cheap

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Illustration: Revery architecture

Plot of land controlled Squamish Nation A beautiful green high-rise is coming soon in Vancouver. The 11-tower complex, called Sen̓áḵw, will include 6,000 new housing units, most of which will be rented out, including several hundred for tribal members. Last year, 87% of the population voted for the project.

If you already know about this, it may be due to tweet about this that recently went viral. The design received a lot of praise, and people wanted to live there. But the rest of us don’t have to just admire the $ 2 billion project and dream. The green public housing that people want to live in can become a reality for all of us.

Sennyav is an architectural wonder; it will be located on a 12-acre plot of land in the Squamish Conservation Area. Its name, which means “a place within the source of False Creek,” is taken from a village that once stood here but was taken over by indigenous peoples in the late 1800s and used to build railways. In 2003 it was returned to the people. The housing project will have low carbon elements for heating and cooling. Revery, architecture firm Squamish Nation and developer Westbank, wrote in a joint statement that the project “aims to be 100% greenhouse gas free.”

The project will also be largely car-free. As this is Squamish land, development may include 90% less parking space than is required by Canadian law. (Yes, there are laws requiring more Parking will be part of the development.) Plans include building a rapid transit terminal nearby with a bicycle and an e-bike garage to help people make greener and less polluting choices.

But most importantly, it looks like a place where people want to live. This project will not be a set of sterile capsules. So it will be include curved balconies teeming with greenery, large public green spaces and retail spaces. It will also be decorated with works of art by indigenous peoples.

“At its core, the Sen̓áw project aims to become a legacy for the squamous nation, celebrating indigenous values ​​based on nature, well-being and community, while simultaneously showcasing the history and culture of the nation,” the message said.

A mockup of Sen̓áw, a massive residential complex in Vancouver that is planned to be built on the territory of the Squamish Nature Reserve.

Image: Revery architecture

The project goes against the old ideas of environmental protection, which portray low-carbon life as ascetic. Design in the truest sense of the word dreamy… However, it also undermines the capitalist logic that only wealthy people should have green housing because they have access to disposable capital and can afford to innovate. Instead of allowing super rich build huge mansions Equipped with solar panels and heat pumps, this project will make green housing available to those who need it most, taking on a dual challenge: climate justice and housing affordability once.

“I can’t think of a more cross-sectoral investment than investing in sustainable, affordable housing,” said Daniel Aldana Cohen, a sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley who worked on federal legislation for Green New Deal for Public Housing

There are other signs that at least some corners of the design world are heading in the same direction. This year, the world’s highest architectural award went to Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, a pair of French architects renowned for their superb work to modernize low-carbon public housing. Bordeaux, France, and elsewhere. And on Capitol Hill, the House Financial Services Committee put forward a plan allocate billions of dollars for communities to create sustainable and affordable housing. Right now this offer may not do it into the main Democrats’ reconciliation bill currently passing through Congress.

While the clean electricity standard (and Senator Joe Manchin’s stated opposition to him) much attention was paid to cutting carbon fiber, hull investments could offer another great path to reduce emissions and improve the quality of life for people. Buildings and their structures make up a combined 36% of world energy consumption and 39% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Poor households also spend more on utilities as a percentage of their income than wealthier households. Energy efficient, low carbon housing can be one of the main ways to bridge this gap.

Mockup of Sen̓áw, a massive residential complex in Vancouver that is planned to be built on the territory of the Squamish Nature Reserve.

Image: Revery architecture

However, the Squamish Nation project shows that housing should not be just bare. Making sustainable housing affordable can help reduce carbon emissions, increase capital, and create jobs and provide ordinary people with a little luxury. This approach can strengthen support for climate proposals in general, showing that climate policies can significantly improve people’s lives.

“Huge public investment in sustainable affordable housing will help Democrats achieve all of the key goals set by the Biden administration,” said Aldana Cohen. “What we see in Vancouver gives us a glimpse of the architectural creativity and splendor that you could unleash in the United States if you simply put real resources for communities to build innovative, sustainable, and affordable housing to meet the needs of local communities. needs and dreams ”.

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