Bentonville, Arkansas is at a crossroads. As its population continues to boom, demand for new housing is straining affordability. The only way to address fundamental concerns with rising housing costs is to expand availability at scale. The only way to address scale is to examine the systems that the modern housing market has created.
OJT was invited to submit to the Housing North West Arkansas Professional Design Competition, which asked professionals to address the very intersection of affordability and scale in housing in Bentonville, Arkansas. Our approach looks at the mid-rise type, or the 4-Over-2, as a workhorse that leverages density against affordability. By working within the framework set by its internal logics and structural diagrams, we proposed retooling the mid-rise parts to efficiently increase Bentonville’s housing stock. The architectural consequences of this system have consistently taken the form of the perimeter block as a way to resolve needs in an urban market. Rather than developing a new type, our adaptation takes the form of the perimeter block and turns it inward.
Instead of assuming the block as the formal outgrowth of type, our approach re-engages the 60-foot wide bar as the culmination of 4-Over-2’s efficiency. Each block configuration is composed of distinct, easily circulated components, which are broken at each of the cores. Merging units smooths out the overall form and creates interconnected circulation. Re-engaging form to re-engage context rescues architecture from the demands of predictability.