New solutions for attainable housing in Bentonville
OOPEAA was selected and invited amongst other 25 offices from USA, Canada and Europe to participate to the Northwest Arkansas Initiative, led by the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design and supported by the Walton Family Foundation.
The goal of the competition to produce innovative designs for providing attainable housing for the working population of Bentonville – Arkansas, a fast growing city with a Master Plan that envisions a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented downtown environment. The site is strategically located offering easy access to central sites (like the downtown) and amenities within a 2 km radius, reachable in a half an hour by foot and in 6 minutes by bicycle. The proposal takes the advantages of the location of the site as its starting point emphasizing the continuity with the existing urban structure, the connection with important services (art, educational and recreational facilities) and to the existing walkable and bikeable network.
OOPEAA´s proposal, the “Urban Village”, takes social, ecological and economical sustainability as its key starting point. In order to create an environment that promotes social sustainability, the structure of the block is designed around the concept of an urban village providing a sense of community while also emphasizing strong links to the surrounding urban context. The modular structure to be applied in the buildings in the Urban Village provides a framework for ecological sustainability, as well as an economically efficient model that is also efficient in terms of the time needed for construction. The modular approach provided can also be easily adapted and modified to fit the specific needs of another site in another context
The scale is at once deliberately urban, yet not very high in density. The idea of the American porch representing a presence of the community in the life of the street and providing as an interface between town and community serves as an anchor for the concept. A combination of two types of buildings is specifically designed to support the sense of a safe community. Type A buildings lining the street provide a connection to the street and the rest of the city and offer spaces also for commercial activity and offices; Type B buildings in the interior part of the block provide shared facilities to the residents and tenants on the ground floor level with an open plan.
The proposed plan creates a sense of continuity with the existing urban structure and facilitates the growth of the city in a way that provides a balanced sense of community in the context of the rapid growth of the city. It maintains the small town identity of Bentonville and supports the planning goals of the city emphasizing the aspect of a pedestrian and biking friendly environment as a key to a healthy life style. It creates conditions for a socially sustainable and environmentally green community with a mix of residential and live-work spaces, shared communal facilities, commercial and office space, and open outdoor areas.
Mass timber modular system
Modular structure applied in the buildings provides a framework for ecological sustainability, as well as an economically efficient model that is also efficient in terms of the time needed for construction. The CLT is a great material for modular construction, but the modular principle could naturally be tailored to work with other materials as well.
The mass timber modular system allows the development to be attainable, flexible and sustainable. The modular principle allows for efficient use of materials and for a cost efficient construction process making it possible to produce living and office space that is attainable and of good quality. The modular system can be easily adapted to different context; additionally, it is easy to move, alter and repair. Moreover, Wood is a renewable material with a great capacity to provide CO2 storage and reduced emissions, making the block sustainable and ecological.
Combined with a custom tool box, the modular system opens up possibilities for easy customization that make it easily adjustable according to the context and the specific needs of the site and the community.