Patrick Linder, Liz Szatko, Tyler Whitney, Siobhan Klinkenberg: Flex Flats
– Thesis Students at Taubman College at the University of Michigan
Project Name: FlexFlats
FlexFlats was a submission for the Institutions Studio at Taubman College in collaboration with Maurice Cox the Planning Director for the City of Detroit for various Pink Zones around the City of Detroit.
Professors: Sean Vance and Kimberly Dowdell
FlexFlats is a collaboration between Patrick Linder, Liz Szatko, Tyler Whitney, and Siobhan Klinkenberg. They were all participants in the same studio at Taubman College.
The goal of FlexFlats is to redefine how community development encourages health. We define “healthiness” as much more that simply physical health. Our holistic approach includes vibrant social networks, nutrition provision and education, mental health, along with community chosen physical activities. The tools allowing for this include FitCoins, InterAction, ProgramSpaces, and CustomModules as ways to both encourage and reward health and healthy civic investment within the community.
FitCoins are a digital currency used within the development, similar to a “perk currency” seen in freemium apps, earned through community interaction.
InterAction is hypothesized about and designed for between current residents, aging seniors, fledgling families, and mixed households.
ProgramSpaces are redefined amenity spaces based on healthy overlapping community interests.
CustomModules define the individual approach of unit construction based on a kit of parts allowing for on-site assembly and staged construction through the design+fabrication center.
Different spaces exhibit these four aspects at differing levels. The gym’s rock climbing wall, with its circuit training staircase, provides both opportunities to earn FitCoins through exercise but also provides literal platforms for physical challenges and interactions. Compare this to the green tower.
This vertical growing element provides a connection between the green roof, condominiums, and the first-floor restaurants. Tenants and neighbors can garden on both the roof and vertical faces by weeding, watering, and harvesting crops. All these actions earn FitCoins and the produce goes into their homes or local meals. This simultaneously engages multiple aspects of civility and reward, which encourages the ideals of SweatEquity within the larger context of a community. SweatEquity being the physical investment of labor to increase value.
Within this community, civic engagement along with the investment of time and resources is paid back to the individual through relationships which may never have happened, fresh delicious food, the benefits of physical exercise, and a community which is alive and exciting.
The longevity of this project and the key to its financial feasibility lies within the CustomModules. While tenants will usually customize their homes in some way, FlexFlats takes this customization further. The condominiums are designed around an infrastructural core, providing necessary systems of water, gas, sewer, etc., onto which customized modules are added. The floors, walls, fixtures, and finishes are all determined by the occupant and their current needs within a highly personalized experience in the on-site design+fabrication center. This allows the needs of the various tenants to be met along with a flourishing of multiple income levels within the same development. Moreover, the condominiums are sold with air rights on one side, allowing for either immediate build-out or future development. This creates condos which change and flex with various needs of the family adding children, children moving out, or even parents moving back in. Modern families are dynamic, their homes should be responsive to that.
The culmination of the many pursuits of the project is a neighborhood wherein citizens can enjoy healthy longevity within a community which is just as invested as they are and will change/grow/flex based on their interests, passions, and goals.
This is FlexFlats.