An estimated 12,000 Seattle residents lived outdoors in 2017 thanks to soaring housing prices in the area. The number of people experiencing homelessness is likely to continue trending upward as affordable housing becomes increasingly scarce. DESC is a nonprofit organization who provides low barrier, supportive, permanent housing and health services.
The DESC N96 permanent supportive housing development is located in the Licton Springs neighborhood. The natural iron springs nearby served as a spiritual health spa for over 10,000 years, so the site design honors the past and reinforces forms of therapeutic landscapes by providing a central stone feature and dynamic surfaces and seating that represent the healing flow of water. A central courtyard framed by raised planting beds offers a variety of seating choices and options for both privacy and socialization while maintaining a strong connection with the benefits of nature. To promote healthy aging-in-place for people traumatized by chronic homelessness, the courtyard provides sensory stimulation through plantings, surfacing options, water features, and color selection; a variety of small group areas for socializing; open sight lines balanced by spaces for solitude; and an accessible continuous walking loop that is wheelchair- and walker-friendly.
The West Studio contributed heavily to the multidisciplinary design team by providing supportive, durable, and budget-conscious outdoor spaces that support the mission of DESC and integrate the site’s history as a place of healing and belonging.
.33 acre w/ 100 Studio Apartments
Images courtesy of SMR Architects in collaboration with The West Studio.