Arroyo design

Perkins and Will's London studio designs sustainable co-living development inspired by arroyo

The London studio of design practice Perkins and Will has won an internal firm-wide competition to design a co-living community concept that responds to the housing crisis affecting major cities worldwide.


The annual competition encourages international innovation and design excellence.

The studio submission, led by senior interior designer Hala El Khorazaty and design applications technologist Vangel Kukov, focused on reimagining an industrial site in one of New York City’s most expensive neighborhoods, the West Village of Manhattan.

The design was inspired by the concept of ‘arroyo’— a place that was once dry, which then transforms to a stream of life after rain — to create a community-led, sustainable co-living development.

The London-based team thought about housing affordability issues as a universal human right, rather than a localised, city-specific one.

It focused the entire piece around the concept of living design, to create an almost circular carbon footprint within the building.

In order to increase the sustainability of the project, the team designed a structural system using cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glued laminated wood (glulam), in a diagram pattern, to form a unique, lightweight, and environmentally-friendly structure for the building.

Interior shot of the Arroyo design

The design includes solar panels on the roof, rainwater reuse, greywater recycling, blackwater treatment, rooftop and kitchen gardens, a hydroponic farm, and a range of smart appliances and sustainable devices, using materials from Perkins and Will’s precautionary list (a compilation of the most ubiquitous and problematic substances that people encounter every day in the built environment) to ensure that everything used is non-toxic.

It also uses the existing foundation to minimise the carbon footprint.

Hala said: “We put a lot of consideration into all aspects of the project and how shared spaces can be utilised in the best possible way.

“From the selection of materials, apartment layout and building structure, to how the residents would live and interact with one another through community incentives, it was important to us to consider every element to create this unique concept that could potentially help many global cities around the world which are facing a housing crisis.”
With the proposed co-living model, renters will have the opportunity to live in a high-quality development, with an actively involved community and options for reduced rent.
The team also designed a model for an app which helps organise bills and allows residents to earn points through involving themselves in the community to subsidise rent payments.

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