Via Verde is one of US (and NYC’s) biggest projects related to social integration within highly gentrified urban structure. Realized in 2012 in South Bronx in New York City, the so called Green Way is a mixed-income residential complex which combines housing funtion with various healthcare facilities and retail space. Through its unique architecture and design approach it gives a fresh view on answering to high demands for living space and green areas in such highly urbanised place as NYC.
The project consists of two parts: housing core and green substance which together add up around 90,000 m². The 20-storey building offers 222 residential units (both rental and owneship units) and holds over 2,300 m² of trade area as well as medical centre, pharmacy and wellness facilities. The height develops gradually with storeys varying from 3 to 20, where all the balconies are oriented towards the central plaza as well as some of the outer staircases. But the highlight of the complex lays in its spatial structure: the shared space is planned in for of a multi-usage pathway which starts from the inner square and unfolds to the rooftop. Here, every meter is reused in form of alleys and benches, merging from the stairs’ steps and provides a wide range of community public spaces such as green terraces, urban gardening zones and small park yards. The rooftops serve as an additional leisure space where collectively cultivated gardens are taken care by the habitats.
From a technical side the project exhibits a range of eco-friendly solutions. There where the roofing cannot be opened for use, the solar panels are installed – so generated electric energy is cumulated and duly divided to light the common areas during night-time. The concept is comparable to governmentally supported Shared Solar programme, which gives an opportunity to distribute in varying ways the collected sun energy. Wide windows allow the light to naturally illuminate the inner space through a longer period of time – those are exposed to the south and west are additionally equipped in wooden panels, to prevent to overheat the housing units during warmer days.
Via Verde is a concert developed by consortium Grimshaw Architects + Dattner Architects which was the winning project of the competition for sustainable housing solutions organized in 2006 by New York’s municipal. It was the city’s first award for affordable housing aiming to achieve the urban mixture within the limits of highly gentrified neighbourhood. The execution of the project estimates 98 million $ and was covered by the city of New York Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the New York City chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). (cf. Urban Land Institute: n.d.)
“The design and development team also worked with the local community board before, during, and after the rezoning process. In the early design phase, the community board voiced its preference for an affordable residential development with a for-sale component. The board also was very interested in the project’s green design features and healthy living components. “Everyone wanted to see the project succeed,” says William Stein, principal with Dattner Architects; he and Vincent Chang, partner at Grimshaw, were the lead architects on the team.” (Urban Land Institute: n.d.)