Light & Verity

Architecture students build a "village" for teachers

The first-year building project takes on a multiyear plan.

It’s not easy for people with low-to-moderate incomes to find affordable housing in New Haven, particularly housing that's near where they work. One local nonprofit is trying to solve the problem for its own employees, with help from the Yale School of Architecture.

Since 1967, the architecture school has required first-year students to collectively design and build a project for the public good. Starting this year, the Jim Vlock First-Year Building Project is working with the Friends Center for Children—a childcare and preschool provider in the Fair Haven Heights neighborhood—to design and build houses where teachers at the center can live rent-free. The center acquired a two-acre wooded parcel nearby, where, says building project director Adam Hopfner ’99MArch, “we could develop a village of homes.”

In order to design a 2,200-square-foot, four-bedroom house that will accommodate two teachers and their children, the architecture students talked extensively with teachers at the center about their housing needs. That house (seen at right in a model and under construction) was built over the summer by students. Over the next three years, first-year students will design and build three more houses on the site. Hopfner says the project has taught the students much about the potential of collective housing and is “shedding light on the significant need in New Haven for workforce housing.”

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