new housing typologies for the production of livelihood
This project is the culmination of a full year of research on alternative land ownership models, conducted at the Yale School of Architecture (YSoA) and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES).
In Newburgh, New York, a city with high vacancy rates, rising unemployment, and a crumbling housingstock, real estate experts are encouraging New Yorkers to buy a house now, while property values are low. Renovation and homeownership will deliver homes back onto the market, where they can once again become assets to residents. Newburgh can be saved!
This discourse ignores that over 65% of Newburgh’s population earns under $50,000 a year. Most current residents do not qualify for conventional financing and thus find homeownership inaccessible. The rising prices of revitalization will inevitably displace Newburgh’s poorest. Meanwhile, artists and artisans from Brooklyn are pouring into Newburgh, looking for what is no longer available in New York City − affordable space − and thus fueling the displacement of Newburgh’s working poor while accelerating the same cycle that caused their own dislocation.
LAND TRUST proposes an alliance between craftspeople and the working poor. Factory spaces and living spaces combine to create a cooperatively owned building complex where designers have access to housing, workshops, retail space, and fabrication facilities while workers receive housing and opportunities for both training and skilled labor. Through an understanding of residents’ means of livelihood, LAND TRUST rejects architecture as a commodity, producing instead a micro-economy that makes housing affordable through collective ownership and by increasing residents’ capacity to earn a living.
LAND TRUST is a project for class alliance. When housing becomes a commodity, it serves the market first and foremost, making inhabitants helpless in the face of market forces. But if space is leveraged to reflect the possibility of political and economic cooperation, housing can protect inhabitants from the market. The measure of success becomes the reduction of precarity, rather than the price of property.