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I think Portland really needs to take it's progressive leanings more seriously and this sort of project would go a long way towards those ends.


I wonder how they're getting people to live in buildings like that. It's depressing, particularly the balcony screens. The building has tiny windows, adding to the depressing feeling.

It figures that a design like this would be forwarded as an idea for "affordable housing". Affordable housing seems to vaguely refer to those with an income of at least $20-$30,000 or more. Do you seriously think people with that income level would consider living in a place like that? This looks more like something rich people would dream up for poor people to live in.

There was one pic on the web site of a side view, showing the end of the building tapering in from ground to roof. That looked nice.

Open floor plans are a fine idea.

The construction concept seems worth exploring. Just needs a different design to demonstrate its potential.

Guess it never panned out, but I always liked Habitat 66 by Moshie Safdie. Idiosyncratic with a certain beauty. Too expensive to build on a broad scale aparrently.


I don't care for Nemausus 1 either. The brut concrete and gravel courtyard seems prison-like. The little splashes of color don't do much to humanize it. But I can admire its boldness and hope that we will have more innovative housing here in Portland.

I've always thought Hundertwasserhaus would be a great match for Southeast!

Brian Libby

Even though I'm the one who wrote about it, I don't disagree that there are aspects of Nemausus's design to take issue with. But as I think these comments take up well, the point is fostering innovation.


Hundertwasser is rad. Something like that might go over big on Hawthorne, Division or Belmont. Definitely would be extreme for many Portlanders. City Repair could relate to it easily. Has a very human, naturalistic, artistic touch.

That concept shows how color and assymetry are important to creating a greater feeling of livability in housing. We have too many glass hamster cages going up.

Here's another nice Hundertwasser link I found:



Id love to see some inventive developer do a standard 4 story building, but allow the "cob" people doing all that cool public artwork around the city, do the skin. The Pearl could use a little playfulness.


Inexpensively-built housing projects for the poor become slums in a few years no matter who designs them. But "affordable housing" doesn't really refer to people who can't already afford an apartment, does it?
In addition to "providing affordable housing" public policies should incentivize maintaining and preserving what exists that's already being lived in for cheap. Not to obsess on the Rosefriend too much, but that's a perfect example of why affordable housing in the city is dwindling: developers' mania for what can be marketed to the >100K/year class.


You can't really see it in this photo, but the back wall to each apt is actually one massive door that opens out to the balcony. They're modified firehouse doors, so they can easily be pulled back, allowing tons of light. The apts are also incredibly spacious - I think most, if not all, of them are either duplexes or triplexes.

The only real problem is the lack of storage. Some balconies end up looking pretty ugly because residents are keeping their stuff out there.


Valerie, can't tell for sure, but expect you're talking about the Nemausus building.

Gerry if what you say about housing projects for the poor is true, that should be seen as a sure signal to the public and city officials that sufficient measures aren't being taken to counter such declines in inexpensively built housing for the poor. Poor, or low income does not neccessarily make a person an undesirable neighbor. Crimimal behavior does, and unfortunately, this is more conspicuously associated with low income people.

Adequately confronting criminal behavior around low income housing is the way to keep low income housing from turning into a slum. This is one benefit of having a mix of income levels in one building. The burden of managing incidental criminal behavior in such a builiding does not fall only upon low income people and the police, as it tends to do when low income people are isolated all to themselves, but is distributed amongst all residents of the building of all income levels represented there.

The more I think about the Rosefriend, the more distressed I am with how the current situation has developed. It's a terrible thing that this building and the people it provided for seems to be slipping through the cracks. Very little oversight seems to have been involved. Not much conscientiousness either.

To a large degree, developers can't really be blamed for such situations, or admired for them either. They exist to make money the most expedient way. It's up to people with vision, imagination and compassion to harness the energy of developers in a constructive manner.


I've observed one element about low-income housing that is often missing from the debate: overcrowding. The increasingly few affordable areas of town have plenty of rental housing occupied by 2 or more times as many people as there are bedrooms. I live next door to one such unit in NE and so does my girlfriend in SE. 4 adults and three kids in a 2 br duplex.
Overcrowding goes along with all sorts of disagreeable things, from crime to noise to balconies-as-storage-space. That's why housing projects look like such hellholes in such a short time.
I believe policies need to be looked at regarding rent control and condo redevelopment, frankly.

Dennis H. Coalwell

I am just a casual observer to this, and similiar, forums simply because I am not a architect or developer but I have a question?

Can a condo tower be designed and built in such a way that the interior finishing products such as kitchen appliances, flooring, cabinet/counter materials be incorporated to "affordable" and "market rate" within the same development?

These less expensive "affordable" units could be placed throughout the condo tower/complex along city guidelines/proposals. As the owner increase their earnings powers the interiors could be upgraded. If sold they could still be on the market as affordable for a period of time and then if not sold be upgraded to "market rate" status.

Is this possible, or even economically feasible?


The architect for Nemausus acknowledged that the building wasn't built for everyone. That's refreshing. It seems a lot of affordable housing these days has a certain washed out look that does little to inspire.


dennis - that is a great observation, and i think it could really be the transition to affordable housing - i think even if you can provide options, that range from not being painted, to as extreme as not having casework, or even plumbing fixtures. the two fatal flaws. the first is that apparently from what i have heard, - you cannot get occupancy permits without plumbing fixtures at least for the extreme cases - i guess that is tied to the residential occupancy, so maybe with a mixed commercial occupancy you can get around that by having shared fixtures per floor? the other flaw, as where it looks inexpensive, it becomes very expensive to not fit everything up at once when buyers decide to upgrade the price escalates quickly. this more than anything has to do with the construction process...think of it as a parade of trades doing their work sequentially. when you pull trades off and then call them back for one or two installs then the price just goes up. i think it is a great idea though, and i hope some developer considers it as another approach to offer affordable funky living at reasonable price.


Small cottages are good way of providing affordable housing, these can be owned as opposed to rented and the residents can then add onto the simple floor plan, improve the cottages over time and possibly grow into a full home. This is what is planned with the Katrina Cottage which is designed for Katrina victims to rebuild their homes and lives after the hurricane and would sell for about $35,000.


mike conroy

wow! I really love the Hundertwasserhaus idea! why don't we build something like this in portland?


I love the Hundertwasser project and in an area like SE Hawthorne, Division or along NE Alberta I am sure it would fit and and sell.
On the other hand, does anyone realize that commercial concrete construction of this nature is going to cost upwards of $150/sq. ft. (hardcost) with land and soft cost the purchase price of these units, even if done at "cost", would still be somewhere around $250/sq. ft


I have a hard time with numbers, but am slowly getting a grasp. In other words, you're saying a 1000 sq.ft. apartment would cost $150,000 to build, $250,000 to buy? What would the most reasonable rate they could rent for be? 350-500-100 sq.ft. units?

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