Social housing often comes attached with a stigma due to various reasons. Most often, these buildings have a drab and minimalist design because of the many logistical and monetary constraints placed on architects. They have to work within several limitations and restrictions, which invariably give rise to mediocre design. However, this need not always be the case, as Spanish architectural firm ACXT has proven recently with its social housing development project in Salburua.
To begin, the entire structure is painted a bright red, making it look like an upscale designer housing complex rather than a social housing project. However, the aesthetic vibrancy of the building is the least impressive feature of the design. There are a number of other innovative characteristics in the blueprint that are even more remarkable.
The building is designed to make maximum use of natural sunlight for lighting the interiors during the day time. It is shaped in the form of a 'U' so that all the apartments on either side of the structure receive adequate sunlight. A unique blend of passive design and green technologies have made the structure extremely eco-friendly. The building has a cogeneration plant that helps it run off the electricity grid most of the time, and it can also sell power back to the grid when there is excess. The ability to run off the grid drastically lowers energy bills, which is an extremely beneficial feature to low-income group residents.
The unique design of the building not only makes it environmentally sustainable, but also it improves the lifestyle of its residents, providing healthier living conditions and lower energy bills. Apart from the financing of the project, there is very little to indicate that it is meant for low-income residents. The building looks trendy, and could be mistaken for a luxury apartment complex. The Salburua project could very well be the start of a new breed of social housing development designs, setting a trend for the future.