949 Moraga Rd
“No man is an island.”
- John Donne
- John Donne
Modern life in collective housing is usually described as lonely, divided, and lack of connection to the outside world. A sense of local community can rarely be found. Even though people live couple feet away from each other, face-to-face interactions are superficial and scarce.
949 Moraga Rd is a co-housing project. It recognizes the situation of contemporary housing and looks for possible alternatives. By investigating the relatively recent construction material, cross laminated timber, it opens up a new possibility for co-housing design.
CLT, cross laminated timber, is an innovative engineered wood product that was introduced in the early 90s in Austria and Germany and has been gaining popularity in residential and non-residential applications throughout the world.
The project proposes to build with the Tulipwood CLT panels, a kind of sustainable, fast-grown hardwood native to North America, and to use the latest pre-fab wood panel technology, both for cutting and jointing.
Architecture / L-shape Walls
To design and to construct buildings with CLT panels is relatively simpler than many conventional methods. It is direct. The structure and architecture is the same, but it is also because of the directness of building that it affects the outcome of the spatial and architectural quality.
The project proposes to build the whole site with the L-shape CLT panels. The L-shape CLT panel challenges the conventional notion of constructing a wall.
If we see the fundamental nature of architecture as the division of space, and the division of any kind of interaction
among people, light, air or sound, we may then ask the question: Why do we build a wall here, and simultaneously how do we build it?
The L-shape wall has an inherent potential to frame an open and enclosed space at the same time. It is a wall but also not really a wall. It’s a partial wall. It divides, but also connects. It opens up opportunities for social interactions and activities. It is a perfect wall to be used for a co-housing project.
Currently building with CLT is more expensive than many other traditional construction methods. However, the cost has the potential to drop dramatically for various reasons.
One effect is the management of tree farming. The project proposes to use Tulipwood as the main laminated panels. Although Tulipwood is one kind of hardwood, it grows as fast as many other softwoods. It is native to North America. It is stronger, so less material mass is required. As a result, it is predictable that with better management of tree farming, the price of CLT will go down.
Another crucial factor is that the construction time required to build with CLT is significantly less than many other construction methods. A CLT house can be constructed in just two weeks. With the labor wage goes up, CLT can be more competitively priced.
949 Moraga Rd is a story of how to innovatively use structural material and, as a result, it may change the way we live. By exploring the construction, aesthetics, and spatial quality of CLT, the design sets up a framework to facilitate interactions: people to people, people to space, as well as people to nature.
Study Models of the L-shape Walls
The courtyard, community kitchen and recreation is at the center of the site with ADA access. The units and walkways dimensions are narrower, so unexpected interactions can happen. Also, building layout forms like fingers crossing, spaces with different levels of privacy are interwoven together.
Unit Sample Model
The L-shape walls create different types of openings for view, light, and ventilation.
Project done in CED, UC Berkeley | Year: 2016 | Instructor: Renee Chow