In the midst of a global affordable housing crisis, we need higher-density residential developments in cities. It’s hard enough to battle all the NIMBY-ism that limits available units. But all too often, the housing that does get built consists of hastily slapped-together condominiums and apartments that have no visual or cultural connection to the neighborhoods around them. They tend to be bland, beige-gray monstrosities that are virtually indistinguishable from similar buildings in other cities around the world. But what happens when developers go in the totally opposite direction, creating unusual, colorful buildings that are impossible to miss?
Architecture firm Archimatika threw convention out the window with Comfort Town Housing, a low-budget residential development in Kyiv, Ukraine. The project’s vivid rainbow of shades dominated by punchy yellows and oranges enlivens an area of town encompassing several city blocks, almost creating a city-within-a-city with its own unique look and feel. It’s divided into two zones: one with streets that allow for motor vehicle traffic, and one with pedestrian-only courtyards, which feature playgrounds, benches, and walkways.
In some areas, the rooflines of the buildings connect in zig-zagging patterns, while other buildings take on elongated gabled shapes with flat facades. Between the colors and the shapes, the development almost looks like a LEGO city from above, adding to the fun (or the weirdness, depending on your perspective). The architects wanted to create three distinct silhouettes with different turns and heights of dual-pitch roofs for an overall effect that’s varied and interesting.
On some facades, they’ve used French balconies to add decorative flair and function. These are the railings attached to the facade that enable double doors to be opened inside rather than spaces you step out onto. Shifting the patterns of the windows also keeps the buildings from looking monotonous.
“The Comfort Town residential complex includes the Academy of Modern Education with a 160-seat kindergarten, a 140-seat elementary school, and a 600-seat high school,” says Archimatika. “The residential complex also includes a 4500-square-meter retail complex with a supermarket, a 4600-square-meter fitness complex with three swimming pools and gyms, a 1.5-hectare complex of outdoor sports grounds, cafés, stores, and offices on the lower floors of the apartment buildings, 22 children playgrounds, and its own maintenance service.”
The firm adds that “a different number of stories of adjacent buildings (ranging from two to 16 floors) forms a picturesque image of every street. There is also a restored park with perennial trees, sculptures, and a fountain. Thus, the former industrial territory has turned into a good living environment and the status of the district as a whole has increased.”
Though unusual for Kyiv, the development isn’t too out of place, and it feels like a vibrant and comfortable place to live, hence the name. All the pains the architects took to give Comfort Town its cheerful, fun, and artsy atmosphere certainly pay off, especially when you compare it to the depressing uniformity of similarly-sized housing projects in Eastern Europe and other parts of the world.