We staunchly endorse Julia Robinson’s new book, Complex Housing: Designing for Density. Julia Williams Robinson, PhD, FAIA, is a professor in the University of Minnesota School of Architecture. As a researcher and scholar, she has been inspired by "a desire for architecture to address the needs of people and society" and she does this perfectly in Complex Housing.
Complex Housing introduces that very architectural type, complex housing, which is designing high-density residential spaces. Only her book highlights how to do this in such a way as to create healthy and viable neighborhoods, common to the Netherlands and found in other northern European countries. Robinson includes fully illustrated case studies that "show successful approaches to designing for density, which reflect values such as long-term planning, a right to housing, and access to light and air."
Professor Robinson’s book infers the need for more and better community-oriented housing in the U.S. We’re now building more high-density housing in American cities, yet there are many lessons to be learned and a large number of people in the U.S. who would greatly benefit from the anchor of a secure home in a healthy and viable neighborhood. To build more equitable housing that incorporates mixed-income households and rental and purchase opportunities, offers innovative financing and is architecturally innovative and diverse will require designers, developers and finance people to learn from Dutch housing and be more experimental in their approach. For instance, with the requirement for more light and air — housing units are situated along single-loaded corridors or on a corner with light coming in on two sides — all participants in the design, construction and finance process must participate. Julia’s new book is a great step toward that reality.