Echo Ridge in Topeka, Kansas is an innovative and sustainable community-based affordable housing project by El Dorado, Inc. El Dorado was hired by the Topeka Housing Authority to create two sustainably designed duplexes and a community center under a tight budget to receive tax credits. They came up with a stellar set of buildings that won several AIA awards and Residential Architect Design Awards in 2012.
The Echo Ridge Community Center is a multi-zoned public facility designed to be used by the 30 affordable housing units in the Echo Ridge Development. The building has four zones: Community, Food, Kid and Adult. The zones are connected to exterior spaces that are sheltered from the elements. One of the most impressive components of the project is the community garden – residents of the development can grow food in the garden and then learn how to prepare and cook what they have grown in the large kitchen inside the community center.
The interior of the community center was designed with a palette of durable materials and flexible furniture. The interior spaces in every zone of the building receive a great amount of natural light, which helps to warm them while providing views of the outdoors and keeping the building’s energy footprint to a minimum. The Topeka Housing Authority had a very tight budget, but the building still achieved all of the credits needed for the Enterprising Green Community Program.
Around the corner from the community center are the two duplexes that El Dorado created for the Echo Ridge Development. These duplexes are designed in an efficient stacked configuration in order to create interior courtyards and green rooftop terraces. The exterior facade of the duplexes consists of multicolored cement board panels and a series of repetitive off-the-shelf windows, which helped to reduce the construction costs.
Both the Echo Ridge Duplexes and the Echo Ridge Community Center provide a better quality of life for dozens of people in Topeka. These sustainable prototypes of future housing and community development would be a wonderful addition to almost any community in our nation.