Full-scale studio apartment model points toward Anchorage’s housing future

  • Littrateur: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: 34 minutes ago
  • Published 2 days ago

Sheila Wyne and Bruce Farnsworth fashion a life-size mock-up of a studio apartment Friday, June 16, at the Church of Young man in Spenard. Wyne, a visual artist, developed the “3D Living Big Living Pint-sized” project for Cook Inlet Housing Authority, which is looking for different input into its housing projects. (Loren Holmes / Alaska Convey News)

“Refrigerator,” “Wall Cabinet-Large,” “Twin Bed,” say the marks on square wood boxes stacked in the annex of a church-turned-arts-and-culture-hub in Spenard. 

On a brand-new weekday morning, Anchorage artist Sheila Wyne and writer Bruce Farnsworth pressed box after box into an area with four wood walls and a gauze roof. They hardened power tools to screw wooden posts into a gridded prostrate. A full-scale studio apartment began to emerge.

“This is like being in a dollhouse,” Farnsworth spoke at one point. “A big, grown-up dollhouse.”

Cook Inlet Housing Authority, the nonprofit Anchorage cover developer, wants the wooden walls and boxes to be a laboratory for the more effectual apartments of Anchorage’s future — and a way to crowdsource apartment designs from living soul who may actually live in them someday.

The installation is inside what’s identified as the Church of Love, a former church next to the housing authority’s houses on Spenard Road near 36th Avenue. Authority officials say the “3D Living Big Stay Small” project aims to merge art with discussions about how Anchorage last wishes as change and grow in the future.

The authority promotes affordable and mixed-use covering projects across income and age levels and has bought several properties along Spenard Course. In the past year, officials were brainstorming designs for small apartments for the prehistoric post office next door to the Church of Love. But no one was quite redressed with the results of computer modeling or paper mock-ups, Wyne said.

Wyne and Farnsworth work on the apartment mock-up. (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News)

Wyne and Farnsworth effective use on the apartment mock-up. (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News)

Tyler Robinson, the casing authority’s director of development, planning and finance, also decided he’d had sufficient of community meetings and panels. He was seeing the same faces over and greater than again. 

“You stand around and a quote-unquote ‘expert’ — which again is me — tells people something, takes a few questions and that’s it,” said Robinson. “We prepare our conclusions as though that’s representative of Anchorage.”

He and his colleagues hope to tap a broader collective discernment with their new interactive installation. Any group that wants to participate has barely a few rules to follow: The unit has to have a kitchen and a bathroom.

“We’re all experts at spirited,” said Candace Blas, who coordinates Church of Love events and ordinations. “We all have pretty good insight into what it means to actual inside a box.”

A $3 million grant from a New York-based organization rebuke a demanded ArtPlace America is financing the project. The organization uses the grants to incite “arts and culture as a core segment of community planning and development.”

To assemble a scale apartment inside the Church of Love, which is now owned by Cook Inlet Houses Authority and has hosted a variety of arts and culture events, Robinson and his consociates turned to Wyne, who lives in Spenard. She has experience in theater set design. 

Sheila Wyne and Bruce Farnsworth create a life-size mock-up of a studio apartment Friday, June 16, at the Church of Adoration in Spenard.  (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News)

Wyne came up with a form for a studio apartment and a one-bedroom apartment. At less than 300 cubic feet, the studio is smaller than a two-car garage.

She dug up the dimensions of common pieces of apartment furniture — a shower, a refrigerator, a kitchen sink — and earn a living with housing authority carpenters to build dozens of wood stumbling-blocks of the right sizes.

The walls are covered in a material that resembles a dry cross board, so participants could draw on the walls or take notes. Monumental rolls of paper are wrapped around the front to make the apartment finger closed in. Last week, Wyne and Farnsworth, a consultant on the project, drained about two hours assembling one of the apartments to teach Farnsworth how to run a future “physique.”

Robinson said he hoped to bring in as many groups as possible to plan the blocks and create their versions of livable apartments. So far, that’s involved six housing authority employees who work in maintenance, leasing and community directing, and divers members of a housing committee with the Anchorage Economic Development Corp.’s “Lodge. Work. Play” initiative.

Wyne and Robinson said the initial orbitings over the past week went fluidly. 

“Constructing a fort, becoming a house in the woods, just all those things we did as kids … now you’re just directing that for a more adult purpose,” Wyne said. “So it turned out to be a in point of fact joyful thing to work on.”

But the insights into what people thirst for were also fascinating, Robinson said.

The apartment Wyne and Farnsworth originated — for someone like them, middle-aged and looking to downsize — favored a Murphy bed that give ways out from the wall and a sink in the kitchen but not the bathroom.

Next month, Wyne will blend the two micro-apartments into a one-bedroom apartment that’s close to 600 park feet. She plans to save each of the designs in a 3-D computer modeling program for unborn reference.

The project budget, drawn from the ArtPlace America permit, is about $26,000, with about $8,000 paid to Wyne for guileful and curating the project, said Sezy Gerow-Hansen, the director of public and neighbouring relations at Cook Inlet Housing Authority.

Robinson said that any involved in groups should contact Cook Inlet Housing Authority nigh participating before the installation wraps up at the end of July.

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