Hem House proposes new housing solution in Chicago
Future Firm’s Hem House is a new Chicago housing solution developed by city real estate specialists Hem Development for the missing middle market.
The long, dark shape of Hem House cuts a minimalist, if somewhat functional, figure on its sleepy residential street in Chicago’s East Garfield Park. With the aim of filling a void in the Chicago housing market, this is not just a fine example of contemporary architecture in the city; It’s also an affordable model of housing for the Midwestern city and beyond. Craig Reschke, co-director of Chicago architecture firm Future Firm, and local real estate developer Joseph Root have teamed up to create Hem Development, a company that aims to fill a very specific void in the Chicago housing market – with a strong design Approach on top of that.
“Hem House does not compete with subsidized, affordable housing in the neighborhood, but the project helps to fill the“ missing middle ”of housing options,” explains the team. The project was created with a price tag to match that part of the market and plays a key role in diversifying the housing landscape. In addition, Hem House is building on land purchased by the Cook County Land Bank Authority (CCLBA), an organization that uses vacant lots in Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods – doubling the concept’s effectiveness.
A minimalist model for living in Chicago
“While Chicago has a very vibrant arts and culture scene, there isn’t a lot of bespoke contemporary architecture, and what exists in the residential sector is almost entirely high-end – so we hope to help change that narrative,” says Future Co-Managing Director Ann Lui. “We wanted to create a house with a few strategic building and design ideas in order to keep costs low, as an idea for Chicago’s vacant residential property,” adds Reschke.
The house consists of two volumes stacked on top of each other – a long, low one that forms the ground floor and a higher one that extends to the first floor. Both are clad on the outside with hard-wearing, black metal cladding.
The interior contrasts with the dark outer skin, using fresh white surfaces and natural wood. A clear, minimalist aesthetic sets accents on light and spatial generosity and directs the view into the garden. Everything has been designed with functionality in mind, while the 50m2 mezzanine with a double bedroom and bathroom adds architectural interest.
Given the size of the property, Hem House is easy to recreate, creating plenty of future opportunities for this design and Chicago housing. “Since the residential lots in Chicago are all the same size, it’s easy for people to repeat plans and end up with a lot of stunning architecture. We want to be a trend in a different direction, ”concludes Lui. §