Housing Future: Reclaiming the Chicago 6-Flat as a Site for Architecture [M2]

The pairing of “Housing Future” and the “6-Flat” is somewhat contradictory.  Housing Futures typically point towards advancements in new technologies or new configurations. On the other hand, this studio takes on the developer’s 6-Flat – a typology that is as recognizable, yet static, as it was a century ago.  This studio explores the 6-Flat as a site for architecture.  

The 6-Flat is a common housing typology in Chicago that borrows many of its elements from its generative and more well-known type, the Chicago 3-Flat. To simply explain, the 6-Fat is a double or a mirror of two 3-Flats sited together side-by-side. Having emerged as a typology that was considered a “vehicle for social mobility” in the early 1900s, it has maintained its economic viability, yet, at the same time, very little substantial spatial consideration has been given to bring these flats into a conversation that contemplates contemporary living environments.

The 6-Flat is capitalized throughout greater Chicago by builders and developers who offer cookie-cutter “open-plan” concepts and promote these projects as contemporary and responsive. One might call this typology a “builder’s dream” due to its standardization (three slabs stacked upon each other), flexibility (the units can easily be reconfigured), economic feasibility (materials and building construction techniques are local and standard to Chicago), and speed of construction (due to their standardization, these projects are delivered quickly and abundantly).

Our studio holds the ambition to redefine the 6-Flat for the next home buyer, anticipating and speculating a housing future for contemporary living in Chicago. The market demands new models for the 6-Flat beyond the traditional nuclear family needing 2-3 bedrooms in an apartment unit. New modes of living beg for consideration of what it means to live together, in the city, in a building, and in a unit.

In the studio, we will be building ½”=1’-0” large-scale physical models to evaluate and design from the apartment unit plan to the entire 6-Flat.