Manhattan is currently undergoing a significant housing shortage. As most new residential developments in the city cater to more profitable higher end markets, the supply of mid-range and affordable housing is extremely limited. In response to this shortage, Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised to provide 200,000 affordable housing units in the next ten years. If this agenda is pushed aggressively it would have to drastically alter current inclusionary zoning laws, and aggressively transform the way affordable housing is introduced into developers’ financial templates. Standard zoning regulation currently makes it almost impossible to introduce new mixed income housing projects into many neighborhoods of Manhattan.        The moment is ripe to rethink the capacity of Manhattan grid to accommodate a significant increase in density and, in doing so, provide new alternatives for domestic urban life. Given the cost of land in and around Manhattan, it is only through a drastic increase in density that more accessible housing units can be introduced into the market. Beyond the introduction of additional units, a significant increase in FAR also allows us to question more general conventions of urban life. A new block configuration opens up a myriad of new relationships that can alter the conventions of urban life. How does an increase in residential density affect mixed-use programs in the block and its surrounding areas? How does it impact existing infrastructural networks (mobility networks, educational facilities, etc.)? How does it question conventions and scales of public and private open space? What are the new relationships between unit, building, block and city? Through a series of abstract and applied strategies, the project attempts to tackle this and many other questions regarding housing as a driver of urban transformation.
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