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Competition Asks Us To Imagine What Floating Affordable Housing in Biscayne Bay Might Look Like

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An architectural ideas competition is looking for proposals that explore the idea of floating affordable housing in Biscayne Bay, to address the dual issues of climate change and housing affordability in South Florida. The competition brief overlooks the many complications that would make something like this extremely difficult if not impossible to build, not the least of which is environmental concerns, but focusing on these main problems it hopes to find some innovative solutions.

Put together by the organization Arch Out Loud, and judged by an impressive list of local and international jurors, the competition asks the question: “How can we design solutions that not only create affordable housing but also make it resilient to the looming problem of sea-level rise?” This is in response to changes happening that are leading to climate gentrification in the surrounding neighborhoods of Little Haiti, Little River, and the Upper East Side.

“The recent development and revitalization of the neighborhoods brings about its own underlying uncertainties: will longtime residents be able to find affordable housing near their current homes and communities? And, if so, how can they protect themselves from the risk of being displaced again due to sea level rise?” asks Arch Out Loud.

The site itself is a parallelogram of Biscayne Bay between the American Legion Park and Legion Picnic Island. Program requirements leave much of the decision-making to the imagination of competition entrants, with the only major requirements being that there be a minimum of 45 units of affordable housing and that each unit comes with its own boat slip, perhaps suggesting they see Miami as one day being so inundated by the ocean that even the poorest among us will have to own a boat to get around. Oh, and although the rules don’t seem to explicitly say the housing has to float, it’s called “Floating Housing” enough on the website that this is pretty clearly what they want. Considering most of the bay bottom is actually quite shallow, this could be a bit of an issue.

Although the early submission deadline has already passed, teams still have a few months to get their design submissions in for a slightly higher fee.

Featured image via Flickr/R. Maas. Aerial view of site via Arch Out Loud.

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