2017-2018 Designing Healthy Places Competition

Winner: Affordable Housing

Miguel Mendez

The Village in the City: LA Millennial Housing

Student: Miguel Mendez | California Polytechnic State University

Faculty: Alex Hirsig | California Polytechnic State University

Juror Comments

This understated project has a rich scheme with modest strategies that don’t resort to heroism. It looks at ordinariness in housing design and makes beautiful places and spaces. The module is well-balanced and successful as toolkit. The interstitial and the periphery are in a pleasing equilibrium while addressing the needs produced by a generational shift.

Project Description


Millennials – generalized as careless generation –are going to be the dominant group of people in the future. They have been raised with environmental values and surprising disruptive aspirations that will become mainstream in the future: temporary living, technology immersed socializing, relationships with nature and open spaces, experience over ownership, living rather than having.

However, millennials are changing the living beyond the nuclear family valorizing families and human relationships over jobs. They will probably raise children on their own and they will need the support of a society to grow that baby generation up. But also, they represent the social change from the postmodern society. They are rising against inequity. Challenging the ownership, they will choose sharing over living alone, opting for a hand to hold. They look at cities as attaching places to settle down, they are citizens of the world: diverse, multicultural, enthusiastic who are continuously challenging ways of habiting.

A Healthy place for millennials lives voluntarily out of self-interest and pushes the individuals to spend time outside, exposes to the otherness through the encounter and surprise of living together and sharing and challenges the current regulatory system for an equitable basic living. It performs visibility in the interplay of being seen and see others and hosts a global community through a full range of customizable housing types.

A Healthy place for millennials supports land uses and financial systems and sustains the community. Since an individual moves up to 11 times in a lifetime. It broadens the network to the globalized environment while promoting local relationships with openness through emerging alternative traveling platforms.

Healthy place for millennials heals from the post euphoria syndrome of accelerated urban life with natural immersed habitats, but also, it provides clearness to mindset through self-outlooking and intrapersonal encounter.


The current financial and social status for millennials shows that they will be living in a world of social insecurity. One out of five young adults aged between 18 to 24 years old is poor. One out of 10 is unemployed (U.S. Census). According to Bureau of Labor, while the bachelor’s Degree holder’s unemployment rate was 10.6%, master’s degree holders are facing 17.2% unemployment rate. One out of 2 are likely to buy a house. Since 2013, 75% of the household fall due to school debt. Nevertheless, this population group are the 1# Nation’s renters which increased since 2008 meaning that millennials hardly can they afford a house.

On the other hand, as stated before, they are changing the concept of family. Their marital status shows they are not getting married and they are preferring their bachelor’s life instead. Only 27% is married while 59% is not, plus the divorced and separated youngsters they sum approximately 64% of the millennials living on their own.


This proposal is in Los Angeles Downtown, between the Arts District and Little Tokyo. These two fascinating districts in the middle of LA has a strong potential to keep hosting brand new aspirations form young people that doesn’t want to live in the suburbs with cultural diversity and within the city.


Some of the characteristics for the housing project are:

  • Modular Construction: As the city, the community is always under construction, providing the customizable housing.
  • Mixed Income Housing: All individuals regardless their social status or income deserve dignified housing.
  • Daycare: Opening the program to single and working parents to take care of children while financially supporting the housing.
  • Hostel: Dedicated units to shared and short term living in the project through internet-based hotel platforms as alternative income to the community.
  • Retails: Retail stores and offices for local economy support and generate community incomes but also easy aces for entrepreneurs.
  • Tax Transfer: Using large-business donations as a reducing tax trade to engage national and local economy in the project and support the affordable housing.
  • Agricultural Urbanism: Community gardens. Growing life as a tool to rebuild the knowledge and relationships with the nature in the middle of an urban environment.


One of the housing goals is to age in place while hosting a global community through a full range of customizable housing types. Building communities demands diversity, indeed, even though architecture cannot provide people, it can give diverse typologies according to people’s need. One of the advantages of having different types it that people can build communities on their own and they can have a personal language and identity. The space is reduced to a minimal expression. Housing units are limited to bedrooms and study rooms or little service spaces. So, inhabitants shall use the community kitchens, living, dining, study and laundry rooms made for everyone.


The experience of living in the community lies on its reduction of each unit area to minimal spaces and providing green space as micro landscapes where people can interact by seeing through their windows and going out of their private spaces to gather, come across, meet, and eventually, interact and relate.

  • Communities :  Common Spaces
    Visually connected to the inner circulation, the community creates a patio in which kids can play while being watched by their parents and neighbors.The walk paths areas surround each community center and are seamlessly connected to each other. Thus, there are different possible ways for users to interact freely on their own space, so meetings become more casual and people know each other strengthening the community.
  • Urban Connection
    Main entrances through plazas to provide urban public space for the city. It generates urban relationships by closing the streets and making street, pedestrian activities, allowing for uncontrolled social activities and becoming part of urban social life.


Some of these intentions are shown within the imagery of what can be possible to develop a new sense of community.

  1. The opportunity to be equals but celebrating diversity. The language of the modular housing is diverse cause windows and doors are designed according to people’s need.
  2. Personal out-looking may be achieved by being alone too. It heals from the post euphoria syndrome of accelerated urban life with natural immersed habitats. Houses are existential places where transparencies act as screens. Features the interplay of seeing and being seen. Imaging a mind setting landscape, laughing at kids playing and staring at nature.
  3. Sharing becomes a principle for equity. Spaces for living are related with democracy. Therefore, common spaces like kitchens and dining tables perform those values through size and single piece furniture. This scene captures the idea of sharing food at the table but also as a possibility to share time, knowledge and experience.
  4. The greenhouse offers the chance to relate with a natural environment. Growing life is healthy because it helps people to understand their selves through other lives.
  5. Are they coming? Are they leaving? Lowering down and gathering people celebrates the different activities that can be done. Play, study, eat, read, stay.
  6. Even though millennials may not have children today, the fact is that they are likely to do it in the future. Less than past generations, these children will grow up surrounded by more adults than any other kids (aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, family friends). By this means, we may not be able to tell who the parents of these kids are, but they will have a human protective network.

The Millennial Housing in LA acts as a Village in the City. Millennials are showing that besides the difficulties of thriving today, they are still dreaming life full of happiness and peace. They are creating new ways for socialization and adaptation. They are used to radical changes like moving form one city to another because of work, family or the looking for stimulation. They keep on living full of energy and finding delight in new activities. Millennials seek a new reality for everyone with social justice and equity for everyone.