07 / 09 / 2020
Architecture and the way we interact with each other have taken a hard turn from the norm. We started hearing about COVID-19 back in December ’19 and it has only escalated from there. Beginning in March when toilet paper was flying off the shelves to now, our country is faced with political and socioeconomic distress. We have not come across this amount of change for decades and as a community it is time that our built environment follows suit. Over the last 10 years, Denver’s population has grown by 21% with occupancy rates soaring 95% above the national average . This shift has created a huge need for housing. People were left reeling at their $2,500/month payments on a 700 sf studio apartment. While most are renters of the large apartment complexes or slot homes that have popped up around the metro area, some are still renting houses made in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Those renting houses come equipped with the standard 2 bed/1 bath layouts, popcorn ceilings, and siding that starting to peel away after decades of neglect. Now, times are starting to change, and we need to push forward the tide of change. With the new stay at home orders, employers realize that they can have people working remotely and still produce the same amount of work. Now more than ever, a home office is being needed and used. In houses built in past years, the makeshift “home office” can typically be found in the basement with the one tiny window that is at grade height. These bedrooms were not typically designed for a productive work environment. As a firm we are striving to design and cater towards the home office. We want to provide a service that will incorporate your home/work life in a constructive layout.
Now more than ever, we should be investigating the possibility of work/live studios. A question might be, why don’t we see more of these spaces? Work/live studios are typically where a commercial business can reside on the bottom floor while the owner’s house is found in close proximity on the property. We are finding these spaces more and more scarce in Denver because of our zoning. To have this layout, one must find a parcel of land that is either zoned commercial or some variety of mixed use. Legally you are not allowed to operate a business within a residentially zoned space. This zoning restricts the areas that a small business owner can build a work/live studio in metro Denver when competing with larger office spaces. Most of these areas are immediately snatched up by a developer wanting to build a 50 unit apartment building or a 5 story office complex. You may be asking, why does this affect me? This style of growth is not sustainable to small locally owned businesses as well as any distinguishing factors that differentiate Denver’s architecture from any other city. Instead of creating site specific live/work studios and buildings, developers are maximizing space to make more money. As a city, we should push for more commercially or mixed use zoned parcels that support smaller businesses as well as those who wish to construct buildings that fit within the context of the area. Understanding that a 2 story house/office space will fit into a neighborhood context is huge to regaining the charm that Denver once had and will have again. Hopefully we can create spaces that are holistically relevant to one another and the people within it.