24J Houses

A gentle density proposal for mid-sized cities

24J Houses is a missing middle housing project for Lincoln, Nebraska that proposes increased density at a comfortable scale in a traditional low-rise residential neighborhood. Following a 2019 Brookings Institution report that argues “replacing detached single-family homes with ‘gentle density’ could increase the number of homes available and bring down average housing prices in high-cost locations, while retaining the physical scale of the neighborhood,” 24J Houses uses a community land trust (CLT) mechanism to create attainable homeownership and maintain affordability for the long term. Land is owned in common through the CLT while individual homebuyers can own the densely-packed detached houses. 24J Houses accommodates 6 freestanding homes (not conjoined townhouses) on 2 lots formerly occupied by 2 condemned houses, thus tripling the density of the merged lots. The concept allows for a mixed-market development with some market-rate structures and some affordable, subsidized homes. Our approach is not to differentiate these on the exterior but instead to create added value for the market rate homes by adding interior amenities and details.

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View from J Street

Protected courtyards form semi-private outdoor spaces for the residents

The Houses

Each house is a three-story structure with a one-car garage on the ground floor that could be repurposed as a workspace or additional living area or bedroom. The second floor includes a loft-like living area, kitchen and bath while the third floor has bedrooms and a shared bathroom. A small basement serves as a storm shelter and utility room. The verticality of the house is visually counteracted by the increased spacing of battens on the painted cement panel siding on successive floors. A shared parking / play court with permeable paving occupies the center of the lot and small semi-private courtyards fill the gaps between the offset structures. The west side of the CLT faces a public bike path along a restored  urban creek.

View from Antelope Creek

Aerial view from West

See FACT’s missing middle and “gentle density” explorations in the NEw Attainable House including the Neighbor-Type House, another example of community land trust. Actual Architecture Co. promotes small scale, high density housing as part of a suite of solutions for the housing crisis that must also include large multi-family buildings. Purchase the NEw Attainable House book here.

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