Location: Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, PA

Client: Onion Flats

Completion Date: 2017

Phase 3 of Capital Flats, completed in 2017, responded to the need for attainable and sustainable market-rate housing in a neighborhood now fully gentrified and increasingly more socially and economically homogenous.  Affordable one-bedroom apartments for young professionals, recent graduates or seniors on fixed-incomes are difficult to find below $1500/month + utilities.  Phase 3 attempts to help balance that inequity by creating a four story, Net-Zero-Energy building, packed with 25 “micro-units”.  This Philadelphia version of a micro-unit is a one bedroom, 500sf apartment starting at $1200/month and includes all utilities.  In order to achieve this level of density, affordability, and sustainability, we maximized zoning allowances, density bonus incentives for a green roof, solar orientation, two - 1000’ deep geo-thermal wells which provide heating, cooling and hot water to ALL apartments, extensive green roof to manage storm water, a super-insulated, pre-fabricated, thermal envelop with triple-pane windows, air-tight construction and a 72 kW photovoltaic canopy on the roof which generates all the energy the building requires on an annual basis.  The project is pending Passive House certification and is designed to consume 80% less energy than a similar code building. 

A 500sf one-bedroom apartment can feel a lot smaller or larger than it’s physical dimensions, depending on the rigor of the design.  Borrowing from earlier strategies in Phase 1 and 2 for unit definition, a simple material and color palette of translucent objects and planes distinguish living from sleeping and bathing areas, and maximize the experience of these “micro-units”.  The majority of the apartments were leased before construction was completed and is now fully occupied.