Needed: Multipurpose Office Buildings
We have homeless people. We also have lots of people who have apartments or other dwellings that are dirty, dangerous, or otherwise undesirable, or from which those people are prone to be evicted due to upheaval or lack of reliable income.
At the same time, we have clean, solid office buildings and retail and warehouse spaces that are sitting empty part- or full-time. Of course, those spaces were not designed to be used for anything resembling residential purposes. But that might change.
It would seem that architects, designers, and engineers could design buildings for multiple uses, and that doing so could yield important benefits on both sides.
The typical office building is a heartless place from which people flee at day’s end. It is not a very human space. That is often reflected in the behavior of the people who work there, in numerous unfortunate ways.
Instead, an office building could be considered someone’ s home, for at least some purposes of home. It might offer, for example, a private, locked drawer in which a child could keep things of value to him/her, for years on end, without seeing those things lost in the turmoil that many challenged families endure. Some office spaces may also be available for general residential use between, say, 6 PM and 8 AM, depending on e.g., optimal janitorial scheduling. As spaces that needed to accommodate people, some office environments might no longer be located in sterile office parks, but might instead emphasize locations in walkable communities.
Office furniture could be designed for multiple uses as well. A couch, for instance, might feature an easily-cleaned utilitarian surface on one side of its cushions, and a more homey fabric on the other. A desk might be designed to convert to a table. Sensitive equipment might be equipped with easily used locking covers, or might slide into locking wall panels.
Multipurpose facilities might be categorized according to their degree of function integration. As families and businesses demonstrate increasing ability to respect the time, possessions, and needs of one another, they might gradually become qualified to relocate to more desirable spaces, or to have more desirable co-tenants share their space, as people move and as various business come into and go out of existence.
Governmental reimbursement for lodging expenses might be spent, not upon rent paid to slumlords who maintain people in circumstances of disrespectful disrepair, but rather to business owners who have opted into multiuse facilities. Struggling families might receive residential options, not on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis, but rather for a starting period of five years, or ten years, or until a certain named child has graduated from a local school. Buildings foreclosed for tax purposes might be especially appropriate starting points for a pilot of test of such a program.
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Tags: architects, buildings, designers, disrepair, engineers, furniture, homelessness, multipurpose office buildings, multiuse, residential, slumlords, spaces