In a recent post on Architizer, architecture writer Matt Shaw takes issue with the design for a homeless housing building in LA–a city struggling to house and support its more than 57,000 homeless people. Matt notes that the design, by architect Michael Maltzan, is innovative but with only 100 units is not a sufficient response to the scale of LA’s homeless crisis. Matt asks, “Given the systemic, large-scale epidemic of homelessness, should we be looking at style over substance?”
Why isn’t it appropriate to experiment with form when designing housing for the homeless? Certainly our obligation as architects is to provide livable and comfortable if not pleasant and inspiring housing regardless of who we design for. The answer would seem to be that the notion of applied progressive architecture and functional architecture are not mutually exclusive.