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South African architect Martin Pretorius wins affordable housing award

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A South African architect Martin Pretorius has won an international affordable housing award for his project-Rethinking Row-houses and Apartment Blocks.

Mr Pretorius presented to the San Francisco Affordable Housing Challenge a concept that sought to redevelop San Francisco’s housing by means of a modular system that uses space more efficiently and introduces additional greenery to the city.

The jury was mostly impressed by how the stacked units integrate a bridge to allow this new community to transverse main streets, describing it as “Beautiful and elegant.”

“It addresses land constraints and space constraints to develop a design for a lively community,” noted the jury.

Such a development, the jury observed, would require high-quality construction and well-considered design and finishes at the street level to ensure the streetscape does not become a dark space, like those beneath bridges and overpasses.

Mr Pretorius, a Cape Town architect working with Workshop and Machine, says that affordable houses should provide more than shelter.

“Houses should be designed in such a way that they use wasted space above transportation routes, which is apparent in traditionally residential areas while creating a platform for urban farming on rooftops,” he explains.

The San Francisco Affordable Housing Challenge is part of Bee Breeders’ Affordable Housing competition series. Run in partnership with ARCHHIVE Books, the competition asked participants with submitting innovative design proposals for mitigating San Francisco’s affordable housing crisis.

Although there were no specific design or site requirements for the competition, the jury gave preference to designs that challenged standard housing typologies. Also considered was how projects incorporated practical design elements or means of implementation that could feasibly enable these projects to offer real solutions to San Francisco.

Martin Pretorius concept and other winning designs will be featured in the ARCHHIVE Books’ forthcoming publication, What is Affordable Housing?

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