Literally drawing on the housing crisis, California College of the Arts students have a new exhibition of somewhat fanciful and often preposterous but visually intriguing designs that would add housing units to San Francisco. Sure, development projects take years to wend their way through a complex pipeline, but that's just reality. Co-curators Antje Steinmuller and Christopher Roach led CCA students to ignore all that, and render a city magically endowed with the 100,000 units that, in 2014, the city's chief economist once said were needed to make a dent on housing costs.
Their vision, called The City + The City: Housing the next 100,000, is now on display at SPUR Urban Center, 626 Mission Street. The exhibition is also the subject of a piece on Fast Company's blog. Co-presented by California College of the Arts Urban Works Agency and the San Francisco Planning Department, it runs from September 9 to April 1, so you've plenty of time to catch it.
To achieve density, students filled in any possible gaps between buildings with housing — including parking lots — and treated themselves to all possible density bonuses. This allowed for — "the potential expressions of a lateral internal densification of San Francisco," according to the language of the project. A bit more on that:
The exhibition ranges from the redefinition of the room as the most basic element of domestic space and its aggregation into collective forms of living and working that take on the "precarious worker" as their subject to the form of the "unbuilt city” of unexploited zoning over the existing city.
"We started talking about underused capacity in the city, and this myth that San Francisco has no place to build and that's why we have a housing crisis," co-curator Christopher Roach, an architect and adjunct professor at CCA, told Fast Co. "If you know, for instance, that large sections of Mission Street are zoned for 65 or 85 feet, and you walk by a little one-story shoe shop or auto body repair shop, you're just like, 'Oh my gosh, we could build housing on top of this thing.'"
But why put forth ideas that feel so unlikely to become reality in a city where development appears systematically stymied? "We feel like our job, because we are somewhat insulated from the politics, is to push the boundaries, and maybe provoke people a little bit to think beyond the kind of constraining image of the city that they have right now," Roach said. "In a way it's a thought exercise to get us out of the kind of paralysis that we're in in terms of addressing density in San Francisco."