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Highwood Square in Hamden, Connecticut by Ben Ledbetter Architect and Graftworks Design Research
January 19th, 2012 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Graftworks Design Research
This project was developed as apartments for artists by Mutual Housing Association, a nonprofit organization working to provide quality affordable homes for working families in New Haven, CT. Located on Dixwell Avenue, the surrounding area is a mix of commercial and light industrial buildings bordered by a residential neighborhood – the existing property and buildings sat vacant for 15 years before MHA bought the property.
The 48,000 s.f. development includes adaptive reuse of an existing brick 1920s warehouse and office building into artist studios and commercial space. 27 units of housing are designed as both new construction facing a “rails to trails” park and as apartments on the roof of the warehouse with direct access to studios below. Our strategy was to develop varying unit types that have the flexibility to be used as live/work studio space. Every apartment has an outdoor balcony plus views to both the courtyard and the park conceived by interlocking the units in plan and section.
Since that this is the first development in the neighborhood to formally address the linear park, the project offers multiple points of access to the bike path and adjacent neighborhood. A polychrome screen wall marks the edge of the development and works like a large scaled canvas that reflects the surrounding landscape. Being that this project revolves around the daily lives of artists, color plays an important role in establishing identity for each apartment and for the community as a whole. All the building materials are standard off the shelf products (metal shingles, polycarbonate glazing, fiber cement board, steel mesh) consistent with the industrial past of the neighborhood but used in novel ways.
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