IN-Review Book: HOCO: Density Housing Construction & Costs

IN-Review Book: HOCO: Density Housing Construction & Costs

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The present book is a compilation of housing projects destined for high density scales or social interest. Found on different countries, mostly European, HOCO researches and compares these projects, revealing their costs, construction year, designer and specially, their construction materials and typical wall sections.

Beautifully accomplished by the authors: Aurora Fernández Per, Javier Mozas and Javier Arpa, this book is a great resource for understanding the complexity of materials and how can social housing projects provide well-being along with well-thought Architectural projects. The comparison between the 32 projects included is an analysis that incorporates Dwelling Density, Residential Density, Floor Area Ratio, Developer Type, Users and uses, the development of the floor plans, façade and roof systems, sustainability strategies and costs per square meter of gross floor area.

Written in both english and spanish, each page can be comprehended regarding the areas mentioned, along with compelling images and drawings explaining every single project. And to have an idea of the sense of this book, take a look at this preview, provided by A+T Density Series via Issuu.

Public housing eluding history

Part of what caught my attention towards this book is the interesting connection between construction, collective housing and materials. The relationship between location, context and building which correlates occasionally to a historical precedent or simply embraces the application of a new construction system, acquiring relevance in many of the projects displayed on this book. Materials range from the most noble, wood, to the most moldable and highly utilized, concrete; to other innovations.

The project below is at Cesta V Polico, Slovenia; designed by Ofis Arhitekti and built in 2007. A project for social apartments siting on a ground that surrounds a 300 year old lime tree, is designed to reflect the traditional slovenian old farm houses, barns and hayracks, from which its façade found its inspiration. The Architects used:

“economic but quality materials such as wooden oak floors granite tiled bathrooms (…) and metal blinds. Its roof is covered with “grey cement (fiber-concrete) tiles in a-texture that copy traditional slate roof.”

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Public Housing conceptualizing materials

While at Architecture School, we are trained to learn about the History of Architecture and to also learn about the History of a building’s location. There is also an intrinsic connection between history and materials, for which we always look back and learn about their manufacturing processes, applications and how materials can express cultural traditions along with the shape of its Architecture. Three important factors of design in relation to contextual analysis consolidate: physical, cultural and regulatory, to form a public housing project in this case in Guangzhou, China; a project inspired by an ancient dwelling type called Tulou, described as follows:

Tulou is a dwelling type unique to the Hakka people. It is a communal residence between the city and the countryside, integrating living, storage, shopping, spiritual, and public entertainment into one single building entity.”

Each façade has been thoughtfully manufactured according to its wall location on this project. The exterior façade is constructed of fiber-concrete panels covering and wood operable shutters. Projecting a cage-like appearance, necessary for China’s urban areas, this project maintains the relationship between cultural history and adaptation to its current context.

Concrete as wall conquerer and other construction systems

Next are two projects displaying concrete as its finish material but utilizing the material in different techniques. The project by MVRDV and Blanca Lleó in Madrid “is more of a building system than as an individual building”. Here, 30 built volumes compose a modular structure for 146 units, explicitly explained through wall sections, details, diagrams and pictures. Concrete is vastly applied on this project in various techniques, noted that the exterior walls are coated with a polyurethane treatment for preservation and longevity.

Project at Rue Elsa Morante by Beckmann-N’Thépé Architectes, is an example of contextualization towards and urban environment, which is the case of the Masséna district in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. Concrete is this building’s main expression, using color tints to project an expressionism and contrast between the dark gray, the golden touch and the various colors around the city. This housing project contains 48 units rendering harmoniously with its surrounding.

These before you, are just examples of the many projects included in this book. For all that has been presented I would totally recommend this book to anyone interested on learning more about construction costs, building materials, details and processes. It is a great tool for establishing a comparison between projects varying scale and size but with the same purpose of housing social communities. You may also note that many of the projects are built and designed with European Codes and Regulations, and as construction may also require other elements not required in some countries of the american continent, only a few are built in the USA. Above all, the comparison between the projects is well appreciated and thoughtfully organized.


If you are interested on reading more about this book or any of its series you can get any of them through the linked images below:

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more Book Reviews by INmatteria®.
Many thanks also to Patricia García from Communications and Press at A+T Architecture Publishers for the provision of this review copy.

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Mabelle Plasencia

Founder and Editor at INmatteria©
• Architect | LEED AP BD+C, with an intense passion for materiality, innovation, technology and science. • Arquitecta | LEED AP BD+C apasionada por la materialidad, innovación, tecnología y ciencia.