Las Casitas ReImagined, Columbia GSAPP
Urechi Oguguo (Research + Visualizations + Modelmaking)
Aaron Sage (Research + Analysis)
This project is inspired by the history of the neighborhood and one of its historical architectural typologies - Las Casitas. Casitas are traditional Puerto Rican housing types that were introduced to New York during the 1960s/70s coinciding with the wave of Puerto Rican immigration to the city.
Our approach addresses the need for low-income housing by proposing a new community living style which densifies the neighborhood while using the casita-garden relationship to improve the safety and well-being of the residents. The project aims to preserve some of the most identifiable characteristics of traditional casitas: the porch, the pitched roof, the cross-balustrade railing system, the garden component, and perhaps most significant – the spatial opportunities to reinforce community. The first three floors of the complex operate as a ‘town’ as they connect through the entire block with public functions that serve the residents and the neighboring community. With markets and restaurants providing food sourced from the gardens, to art and exercise spaces providing opportunities for the youth and the neighborhood at large, the project serves as a necessary instrument promoting the health and well-being of the neighborhood.