When we think about housing, especially in urban areas, we’re not just thinking about a place to rest our head. Instead, housing must include some broader amenities, such as access to transportation, services and jobs. And even more importantly, as more and more people move back from the suburbs to urban neighborhoods, there is an increased focus on finding community. Today, city planners, developers and architects are paying attention to the role of community in the planning and building of urban spaces.
One notable example which goes even further, by creating spaces fully centered on the people who will occupy them, is the Superlofts project.
Superlofts was founded and grew out of the architectural studio Marc Koehler Architects by Marc Koehler. Superlofts combine some extraordinary features to create amazing and unique buildings, with flexible housing layouts, carbon neutral living and curated communities.
The vision behind Superlofts is rooted in a process that Marc and his team developed in Amsterdam. Fifteen years ago, the studio was a boutique design agency, primarily focused on designing houses and renovating apartments. They learned the importance of listening to what people wanted in a home.
The ideal day
Over time Marc’s team developed methodology known as “The Ideal Day.” Rather than asking clients what about their physical space needs, they asked them to describe their daily routine. Their clients scripted out an ideal day in their life, how they imagined an ideal day, from waking until bedtime. Using these scripts, Marc and his team designed spaces that responded to the way their clients wanted to live, not to the spaces they thought they should have.
This exercise helped people to imagine the possibilities for themselves, and for change and improvement in their lives. Marc believes this is the fundamental purpose of his work – to find ways that architecture and design “can really change your life if you take the opportunity and really think of what you want to achieve in your new space.”
The business of bringing people together
Marc describes Marc Koehler Architects as being “in the business of bringing people together.” This is a unique role for an architect to assume. They are generally focused on buildings and spaces, not on people. Superlofts is the culmination of this idea. Superlofts is “a system for living that puts people in control with a flexible, modular, co-creation approach to the ultimate urban space: the loft.”
The first Superlofts project began with a simple concrete frame structure. Future homeowners were able to build their dream space in a “vertical village.” The process involved co-creation sessions which brought together the future residents of the building and provided them with the opportunity to plan how they wanted to live together. This filled an important need for many people by introducing them to the community of people they would be living with and providing them with the powerful opportunity of developing shared spaces. Ultimately, Superlofts aims to create urban villages with buildings where people’s daily lives intersect, allowing them to be responsible for one another.
The Superlofts concept flips the normal planning and design process on its head. Rather than starting with the building, planning and design starts with the people. The resulting spaces are functional and sustainable, communities with happy people that are well-connected and supported. This a new way of thinking about how to create ideal living environments in cities.
Listen to the full interview with Marc Koehler to learn more about Superlofts and the business he has built himself, bringing people together.
Image courtesy of John D Norton