A poignant and timely video created by our friends at Ecomotive Limited in Bristol. Thanks to Jackson Moulding for interviewing our Mark Lakeman and featuring some familiar projects :)
Post by Robin Koch
As part of the multi-disciplinary Permaculture and Social Equity Team (P+SET) selected to research issues of climate change in the Bay Area and propose design ideas to promote resiliency, Communitecture conceived of this Regional Resource Park on Mare Island.
Mare Island is a peninsula within the city limits of Vallejo, CA but separated from the city by the mouth of the Napa River. Vallejo boasts a high level of cultural and racial diversity as well as civic engagement but is plagued by poverty, lack of jobs, crime, and disease due to pollution and lack of access to nutrition. The assets of Mare Island include the abandoned buildings of a naval base that was shut down in 1996, a historic cemetery, a marsh, a grassroots volunteer-run wildlife and heritage preserve and a lot of open space. Some of the needs that were highlighted in our research were green jobs, housing, local food production, carbon sequestration, protection from flooding, and a ceremonial place for collective grieving in times of tragedy.
This proposal matches a tremendous regional resource with important and timely needs. The extent and scale of the former naval structures on Mare Island is matched only by the scope and scale of the City of Vallejo and the Bay Area’s need to become resilient. By enacting the adaptive projects and features described and illustrated in this proposal, Mare Island can help answer the call to provide equitable jobs in urgently needed resilient technology, more equitable jobs in related educational and cultural fields, and adjacent affordable housing in a smart growth configuration. All adaptive development will ensure that existing wildlife areas and resources are protected and enhanced.
This proposal integrates numerous existing development plans for the island while adding new ideas and features. Art is joined with ecology in the new cultural village at the Southeast edge. An outdoor education village at the southern extent brings regional youth outdoors to explore land and water. This proposal also expands the existing naval memorial site by bringing community to the top of the island where they will find spectacular views from an expanded memorial facility. There is also a proposed energy and food production, job-creating facility located on the highlands of the island. As an educational and productive resource, this facility can generate power for 1800 homes and provide lots of locally grown food. Lastly, on the western side of the island there is an Equity & Livelihood Village where more than 400 people from most vulnerable populations can find family housing and green jobs. In this case, “equity” refers to a village of active engagement and involvement in all processes and decision-making.
Adaptive Reuse Naval Base
Mare Island Heritage Preserve & Interpretive Center
Arts & Ecology Village
Outdoor Education Campus
Southern Island Heritage and Wildlife Park with Memorial
172 Acre Energy and Food Farm (2nd Phase)
Equity & Livelihood Village
Post by Jason Fifield
Photo from the Kenton Women's Village
Please join us in this inspiring project to support veterans who are experiencing houselessness in Clackamas County. This project involves a unique collaboration between Communitecture, the Pickathon Music Festival, the Portland State School of Architecture Center for Public Interest Design (CPID), and the S.A.F.E. Pod, designed by SRG Parternship. The Treeline Stage at Pickathon was designed and built by CPID students using trusses from the S.A.F.E. Pod design so that the stage could be disassembled and repurposed to provide shelter. We hope this innovative collaboration will be repeated for future festivals.
The trusses will be used to build 15 sleeping pods that will be located at the Veterans' Village in Clackamas County. In addition to utilizing repurposed trusses, this project will provide much needed shelter and other services at a low construction cost through the efforts of volunteer work parties.
We invite you to participate in this exciting opportunity to construct shelters for houseless veterans in Clackamas County! All skill levels are welcome - training and tools will be provided on site, led by Born and Raised Construction. Work parties throughout October are generally Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 1:00 to 5:00 and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 - 5:00.
See the link from City Repair for more information and to sign up: http://www.cityrepair.org/cc-vet-village/
For the village as a whole, we are working diligently on the land use review process, building permits, and site plan design. We are honored to be working with such great partners on this project, which also include Clackamas County, Catholic Charities, and the Village Coalition.
This year's Village Building Convergence (VBC) was a huge success! We would like to highlight some great work parties at our headquarters building in SE Portland, and to thank the volunteers who helped with these fun and informative projects. We installed an planted an espalier fence, we gathered discarded urbanite from a driveway demolition and built an urbanite planter wall, and we painted the roof of our building white to reduce the urban heat island effect (and to keep our 2nd floor office tenants a little cooler this summer). Thanks again for everyone involved! Stop by to check out these projects!
Post by Jason Fifield
Communitecture is very excited to be working with two great organizations that provide so much value to our community:
ROSE Community Development:
25th Anniversary Celebration - May 4, 2017 - Rosette Sponsor
2017 Annual Dinner - Trabajo Sin Muros; Work Without Walls - June 14, 2017 - Presenting Sponsor
ROSE Community Development has been advocating for and providing affordable housing and economic opportunities in SE Portland since 1992. In an era of gentrification and increased housing prices, ROSE provides community ownership that helps to control prices and allows many people in need to have a safe, clean place to live. ROSE's impact has greatly contributed to our city through affordable housing, youth initiatives, support for families and young children, and many other community resources.
Portland VOZ allows for day laborers and immigrants to come together and promote civil rights, fair labor practices, job training, education, and leadership skills. They are a worker-led organization, with the intent of providing workers with the knowledge and experience to obtain long term employment. Additionally, Portland VOZ has created the opportunity for workers to organize and reduce discrimination and wage theft. Portland VOZ represents many who provide valuable and important work throughout our region.
Communitecture is honored to be supporting and working with such wonderful organizations. We hope you will join us at these fundraising events!
The renovations at our new property are nearly complete--we are officially moving in--and you could too! We have a lovely office available to rent to a business or non-profit that compliments our office culture. We are a vibrant community of activists, architects, community builders and volunteers who form friendships at work, share home-cooked meals, garden together, and keep each other inspired to make Portland a better place. The landscape surrounding the office will be cultivated as a permaculture demonstration site. Non-profits, designers, engineers, women-owned and minority-owned businesses encouraged to apply.
The private office is 170 SF, featuring a window, vintage hardwood floors, lovely natural paint, a walk-in closet, and built-ins with a sink. It's in the upper level of two-story converted house. $625/month. Available immediately. One year renewable agreement preferred.
- Utilities included
- High-speed wi-fi and an ethernet port
- 24/7 access
- Security system
- Use of shared conference room
- Shared full kitchen and break area
- Outdoor space w/ gardens and fruit trees
- Sign facing Division Street (at cost to you)
- On the 4 Bus Line; two blocks to the 70 Bus Line; four blocks to MAX Orange Line stop
- Close to restaurants, coffee shops, New Seasons, People's, Ladd's parks
- Cleaning services
- Off-street parking
- Phone line (can be added for monthly fee)
Please note: You must climb a flight of stairs to access your space. The conference room is on the ground floor, but there are a few stairs to enter the building as well.
TO APPLY, email office - at - communitecture - dot - net and include:
- Name of your organization
- Your website and contact info
- Your mission statement or description of your work
- Approximate typical office hours
- Number of people in your organization
- Describe your needs regarding visitors to the office (how many clients/others per week; group meetings or individuals)
- Any questions you may have for us
Post by Jason Fifield
After the State of Oregon removed a ban on inclusionary zoning earlier in 2016, the City of Portland followed with the approval of inclusionary zoning on December 21, 2016. Inclusionary zoning is a policy that requires developers to build a portion of housing units to be sold or rented at a lower rate for low income families and individuals. To offset lower revenues, most jurisdictions allow for other incentives with these projects, such as increased density, lower parking requirements, expedited permits, and subsidies. Prior to the change in Oregon state law, Oregon and Texas were only states in the US that did not allow inclusionary zoning. Over 200 communities in the US have adopted inclusionary zoning in some form.
Beginning in February of 2017 in the City of Portland, developers of multi-dwelling projects of 20 or more units will have two basic options:
1. Provide 20% of the units to residents that make no more than 80% of the region’s Median Family Income.
2. Provide 10% of the units to residents that make no more than 60% of the region’s Median Family Income.
- Developers may choose to pay an additional fee instead of selecting one of these options - Note: The Portland region’s Median Family Income for a family of 4 in 2016 is $73,300
The intent of inclusionary zoning is to allow more diverse neighborhoods to exist, to provide options for low income residents to live in all neighborhoods of a city, and to address the housing crisis by requiring affordable housing to be built along with market rate housing. Many low income families and individuals have benefited from this practice by being able to live in an area of their community that allows them to have access to good schools, transit, and business opportunities.
Portland City Council and many affordable housing advocates have applauded this development, but there are mixed reviews about the success of inclusionary zoning. Critics state that it increases the cost of construction, which will reduce the number of new housing units being built and thus increase the cost of housing. Also, while the affordable housing units in a given development are available at lower costs, the market rate units in the same development are likely to be more expensive to offset revenue losses of the lower rate units. Finally, the housing crisis in Portland is so extreme that the number of affordable housing units built through the inclusionary zoning process is likely to be far less than the demand for these types of units.
Despite these shortcomings, inclusionary zoning is a positive step in the fight against the housing crisis. Through its implementation, many will receive the housing assistance and opportunities they need to advance and make further contributions to our city. Neighborhoods and cities are stronger and more vital when they are inhabited by diverse people and families, which is encouraged by inclusionary zoning. Also, tax exemptions, systems development charge waivers, and other credits will help to subsidize revenue losses to developers. However, inclusionary zoning should not be seen as a complete solution to the housing crisis. Many additional strategies are critically important to provide an equitable and diverse housing market as Portland’s population is expected to increase by approximately 250,000 by 2040.
One additional policy change that provides some of the strongest protection for many of Portland’s residents came as a result of a unanimous City Council vote on Thursday February 2nd. After hearing many hours of testimony from residents, property owners, and other concerned citizens, Portland’s City Council approved a law that requires property owners to pay relocation costs of between $2,900 and $4,500 to tenants when rents have been raised by more than 10 percent or when a no-cause eviction has been issued. This law was approved as part of Portland’s declaration of a housing emergency in 2015. It will be in place until October when the State of Emergency in Housing is scheduled to lapse, although it can be extended past that date.
No-cause evictions often plague long-time residents as neighborhoods are gentrified and pressure builds for property owners to sell and redevelop buildings, so this law will provide much needed assistance. Property owners have also been known to increase rent by extremely high percentages, which often serves as a default eviction since it prices out many residents. Like inclusionary zoning, advocates admit that this law isn’t perfect. But, as pointed out by Commissioner Chloe Eudaly: “This is the only tool the City of Portland has to protect renters and we are using it.”
With many issues coming forward that affect the present and future of housing in Portland, we will keep you updated with the latest developments and insights.
Post by Robin Koch
While there is not one blanket solution to the problem of houselessness in Portland, some of those in need are finding relief in self-made villages. Communitecture's involvement with this effort dates back to the early days, when our principal designer Mark Lakeman was involved in creating Dignity Village fifteen years ago. Today, new iterations such as Hazelnut Grove are growing in to refuges for self-organized groups of people who desperately need a safe place to rest.
Earlier this year, Mark began collaborating with the Village Coalition and the Center for Public Interest Design to engage architects from all over Portland in building new solutions. On October first, a vibrant room full of creative and hopeful minds got together to brainstorm design ideas to shape sleeping pods ranging from 48 to 80 square feet. Architects, activists, and homeless people sat down together with pens and paper to share ideas. From this charrette, fourteen design teams formed and were each awarded a $2,000 grant by the mayor's office to build their designs.
Photos by Julian Dominic
Many of us worked late in to the night over the last three weeks to build our structures in a big old warehouse on the river. As the roof leaked rain drops on to our table saw, and temperatures dropped, City Repair volunteers made sure we had coffee and pizza and encouragement to get us through the long hours. Our friends as well as volunteers we've never met showed up to lend a hand, simply to be part of this important effort.
Since yesterday morning, the pods have been making their way downtown to be publicly displayed over the weekend. Snow and sleet fell as they were unloaded from the truck as a perfect reminder of how important basic shelter is to our fellow Portlanders.
The Communitecture design team consisted of Mark Lakeman, Dylan Thomas, and Robin Koch, joined on the construction site by builder Elwood Johncox. Our design--known as the "doorplex"--exhibits at least three unique characteristics that set it apart from the other pods. Firstly, it's largely composed of repurposed materials including hollow-core doors as walls, metal construction site signs as roofing, and cabinet doors fitted with plexiglass as windows. Secondly, we carved two separate living spaces out of one 64 square foot space by stacking sleeping bunks, each with their own entrance. There are so many people needing shelter this winter that we wanted to push the envelope and shelter more than one. And last, the curved roof shows just how much we care about making this structure special.
See all 14 of the pods arranged in a village layout this weekend at the north end of the NW Park Blocks (511 NW Broadway Ave.) They will be on display all weekend, with a panel discussion at PNCA on Saturday at 11am. A closing reception will be held the following Saturday, December 17th, 11am - 2pm at the same location.
Following the display the pods will be moved to a new homeless village to shelter those who need them most.
Photo by Priti Shah
Photos by Dylan Thomas and Robin Koch except where noted. Rendering by Dylan Thomas.
communitecture ARCHITECTURE | PLANNING | DESIGN creates beautiful and sustainable places that bring people together in community. We are a small firm that is looking for a new member who will help us grow. This is a unique opportunity to work with an acclaimed sustainable firm which attracts like-minded clients focused on low carbon, highly sustainable, communal structures, and place making processes.
We are looking for a highly qualified Project Architect/Project Manager. Candidate should be creative, organized, self-motivated, possess excellent design and technical skills, and be community focused. Individual must be able to multi-task, collaborate with and manage team members, communicate effectively, possess excellent client skills, and work well in a laid back environment. Our office culture includes highly motivated community builders and activists and we are looking for candidates who are fiercely green, passionate about issues of our time, and have a very strong impulse to do something about it through design.
- Bachelors or Masters degree of Architecture
- Architectural license in Oregon (Washington and California a plus)
- Qualified Project Architect/Project Manager
- Professional experience on single family, multi-family, and small commercial
- CPHC – Certified Passive House encouraged but not required
- Active in community outside the office
- Experience with small firm management
- Strong sense of business strategies encouraged
- Can juggle multiple small projects
- Strong leadership skills
- Proficient in Revit, SketchUp, Adobe Suites, MS Office, etc.
- Ability to hand draw schematic design ideas
- Ability to solve complex technical issues and manage construction documentation
- Hands on construction experience encouraged
- Experience writing specifications a plus
- Experience designing and detailing strawbale and/or strawclay construction encouraged
-Manage projects ranging from small residential & small commercial projects to large ground-up housing projects.
-Manage a staff of 2 designers.
-Manage firm operations and staffing.
-Review drawings for constructability, code, and completeness.
This position will begin on a contract basis with opportunity to grow into employment. Salary is negotiable and based on experience.
Please email cover letter, resume, and graphic work samples to firstname.lastname@example.org after exploring more about us on this website.
Post by Robin Koch
One of the most urgent issues in Portland these days is finding a place for everyone to live in an equitable way. It’s heartbreaking to hear of elderly citizens, people with disabilities, and families with children being displaced from their homes, where they may have been paying hard-earned rent for many years, while developers profit from the booming real estate market. The use of land as a commodity has blinded many to what should be the true values and functions of a community. That’s why the City of Portland has been pressuring the state to lift its ban on inclusionary zoning and has recently succeeded.
With the passage of SB 1533 on June 2, 2016, the state allows local governments to use inclusionary zoning and to implement a new 1% construction excise tax to support affordable housing. Portland is on its way to implementing inclusionary zoning later this year and has already passed the tax to fund it.
If you apply for a building permit after this Monday, you will notice a new construction excise tax in the amount of 1% of the project’s value when you pay for your permit. (Note that ADU’s and projects under $100K are exempt.) For many of our clients, this tax will increase project costs by at least a couple thousand dollars, so we wanted to know: What will the tax be used for?
Commercial projects are expected to generate at least $2.5 million per year for the Portland Housing Bureau’s new Inclusionary Housing Fund to support the production and preservation of units at and below 60% median family income. This fund was just created under this bill, to subsidize a zoning ordinance that hasn’t been passed yet, so I haven’t found detailed information on its use.
According to the development activity in the last 5 years, residential projects (1- and 2-family) are likely to pay at least $5.4 million annually toward this tax. In accordance with state-mandated percentages, Portland will allocate 50% of revenue from residential projects for developer incentives for inclusionary zoning, via the Inclusionary Housing Fund. Essentially, as developers create market-rate housing, they will soon be required to create affordable housing as well, and these funds will help make that feasible. 35% of it will support affordable units (like the commercial project revenue). 15% will go to the state’s home ownership programs, which assist with down payments.
We will keep you abreast of the progress as the city develops the inclusionary zoning ordinance over the coming months. We all want to know how this will affect our neighborhoods, our projects, and the future of Portland.
We design beautiful and sustainable places that bring people together in community. We are absolutely committed to sustainability, while respecting the needs and priorities of all the individuals, families, and communities with whom we work and play.