Monterey Housing Competition

July 2014 — Description

The choice of site

This proposal is for the coastal cities of Monterey. Situated in an extraordinary landscape, the cities themselves, except for Carmel and Monterey of course, are not famous for their natural beauty, though they have great potential given their locations. Towns such as Seaside, Marina and Sand city seem dormitory cities for Carmel and Monterey, but have grown too large and expensive to be just that. Though the cities are very different, we found one common denominator, namely the highways, and large roads.

The brief suggests moving away from use of car, and tries to encourage people to use public transport. However the only public transport available is the bus, which uses the highway. The highways therefore seem important as traffic arteries. The highway also gives a first impression of town and landscape. ). Highway one passes the most extraordinary stretches of beach and park near the sea. Unfortunately buildings along the highway are uninspiring and ugly developments. Built cheaply and quickly, these developments are usually accompanied by large car parks.

It thus seemed to make most sense to use the highway, rather than ignore it, and create living and working centres off the highway, especially since the assignment was to think of a generic development which can be applied all over America. The highway is an American institution, and has created new building typologies before.

Our proposal tackles the sites along the highways, and is an attempt to create good housing, in an (sub)urban setting, accessible to public transport. The scheme can also be implemented in the near future, because it uses what-is-already-there, and is not dependent on new infrastructure..

The scheme

The scheme consists of a long wall (up to 200 meters long, 6 meters high and 16 meters wide), as a buffer from the highway, in which parking, for people who do have cars, and cafés and shops, The architecture of the wall is neutral, the wall looks like a dike, or a fortress, but roofs and signs and billboards can be added, if desired by the community. At the end the wall bends and in the bend there is room for other functions, such as a school, a small theatre, a health centre, or maybe a tourist centre.

In front of the wall, is a wooden platform, an element in itself, which is a public square, from there are paths to the different housing units. The square is set in a park like landscape. The wall and the square, thus form a town centre people can walk to. Since they are close to the highway, buses will stop here as well, and in some locations light railways can be implemented.

Around the square, housing blocks of fifty meters length, by nine meters are loosely placed in the landscape. Each block consists of five houses each. Each house is different but made up of the same elements and built around a patio. This means the blocks can stand quite close to each other to achieve high density (up to 12 units per acre). The houses are all one story high, except for one type, which is a studio house and has extra living space on the top floor. The density of the blocks can decrease towards the edge when the settlement would be close to the ocean. The houses can be extended with a backyard facing the ocean. The houses all have a small porch in front of their patio, and are slightly raised from the ground, thus seem to float in a landscape.

The housing blocks are made in wood and steelframes. The houses are standardised and can be easily assembled. Because they are raised there is not too much foundation work needed, plus minor slopes can be dealt with.

The scheme

The scheme has to be adapted per location, and according to the needs of the local community. Therefore it seemed to make sense to design a couple of strong elements, which do fulfil the requirements of quality and infrastructure, but which are flexible, and can be changed. This proposal describes the elements of the scheme, and gives one possible scenario, for sand city, where the highway almost meets the ocean. Many other scenarios are thinkable however.


On top of the wall, solar panels can be laid to provide part of the electricity for the neighbourhood. Lighting inside the parking area can be natural, and though glass fibres.

The landscape surrounding the houses is to be with grasses and plants, which do not need much water.

In the landscape dirty water and rainwater recyclers can be placed, the water from which can be used to flush toilets.