Stormwater Management, Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Indoor Air Quality, Advanced Building Envelope
Yobi Apartments begins with a simple assertion: A large number of people living together in a communal setting need an architecture that is designed to bring people together in ways that encourage community. This project fulfills a triple bottom line model, exceeding its competitors by supporting social connectedness, site efficiency and sustainability.
Yobi Apartments is a different kind of project than “microhousing” that has come before. Whereas most micro projects are organized as a cluster of townhouses with multiple entries and stairwells, Yobi Apartments is designed as a single building with one entry at the street. Residents are welcomed home at the ground floor by a generous commons featuring a lounge, fireplace, kitchen, study room, laundry, mailboxes, and media room. Access to the private rooms is through the commons, activating the space and creating opportunity for chance encounters among the residents. The commons provides a public counterpart to the private units, a place to bring people together for movie night, weekend dinners, study groups, etc.—the kind of social glue that can make living with 50 other people into a positive, desirable experience.
Additionally, each level has what we’ve dubbed a “pajama commons”—a communal kitchen where immediate neighbors can cook together and hang out in a more casual setting. Communal spaces look out onto the street, providing positive “eyes on the street,” as well as visual activity along the street edge.
The project has a number of notable sustainable features. It is certified Built Green 4 Star, which means that it has met sustainable criteria over a broad range of categories, including stormwater management, water use, energy use, indoor air quality, and waste reduction.
The amenity area, large windows and balconies are located on the south façade of the building, to take advantage of passive solar gain and light at low sun angles. Sunshades, balconies and roof overhangs provide shading when the sun angle is high. Roof overhangs also protect the building materials from inclement weather.
A bioretention planter, permeable pavement surface, and landscape plantings support responsible stormwater management through on-site infiltration, while providing visually appealing features to residents.
The project has a number of energy saving features, including a high performance exterior envelope, spray foam insulation, passive solar design, high efficiency lighting, and high efficiency gas boilers. All together, the project has an energy use budget that is 60% of what is required under the current energy code. That’s pretty good in and of itself, but it’s only half of the picture. The project is particularly interesting when you look at its energy usage.
Energy use for buildings is usually measured in a unit called EUI, which is a measure of Kbtu per sf per year. This is a common way of comparing one building to another in terms of efficiency, but micro-housing is somewhat unusual in that it is very space efficient and each occupant uses dramatically less square footage than what you see in a typical apartment building.
A typical code compliant apartment building will have an EUI of about 40. If you include common areas and circulation, a conventional apartment takes up about 800 SF of floor area for each unit. The Yobi Apartments has an EUI of 38 but Yobi uses only 280 SF per unit. So, when you take into account how space efficient micro apartments are, you start to see just how energy efficient small apartments can be. A person living in the Yobi uses roughly 1/3 of the energy of someone living in a conventionally designed apartment building.
Another thing Yobi Apartments has working for it is that its economics look really good. The apartment format of the building is much more space efficient than its townhouse-pod predecessors, so it's not just more desirable from a user standpoint —it's a better development model.
Sited next to Seattle University, Yobi Apartments is perfectly located for high density, lower cost, quality housing with an emphasis on community.
Architect: Neiman Taber
PM/GC: The Metropolitan Companies, Inc.