A group of fifth-year architecture students at Kansas State University teamed up with local firms El Dorado and Studio Build to design and build an affordable two-unit dwelling for low-income families. The Waldo Duplex, built for $200 per square foot, comprises carefully designed open spaces that strategically utilize natural light.

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The duplex, built on a budget of $290,000, is located in a historic area of Kansas City, Missouri, dominated by single-family bungalows and shotgun homes. While the duplex has been dominated by generic, utilitarian form these days, the designers wanted to create something that stood out. The result is an unconventional housing solution amongst fairly uniform residential typology. The exterior and roof are clad in corrugated steel and features high-end finishes on the interior.

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Related: El Dorado brings Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Echo Ridge Community to Topeka, Kansas

The students, working as part of Design+Make Studio, teamed up with two local studios to design this pair of apartments for low-income tenants. “This building type was conceived as a more compassionate way to meet housing needs in lower-income municipalities and neighborhoods without the density that is typical in affordable housing,” explained the team.

Affordable housing, duplex in Kansas City, Design+Make Studio, El Dorado Inc., Studio Build, low-income housing, Kansas City, Kansas State University, open-plan layout, green architecture, natural light

The street-facing porches are enclosed within wooden slats and cantilever over the site. Each apartment offers 725 square feet (67 square meters) of space, with open-plan layouts that include living rooms, kitchens and dining areas. These spaces balance natural and artificial light, working in synergy and dialogue with each other.

+ Design+Make Studio

+ El Dorado Inc.

+ Studio Build

Via Dezeen

Photos by Mike Sinclair

Affordable housing, duplex in Kansas City, Design+Make Studio, El Dorado Inc., Studio Build, low-income housing, Kansas City, Kansas State University, open-plan layout, green architecture, natural light

Affordable housing, duplex in Kansas City, Design+Make Studio, El Dorado Inc., Studio Build, low-income housing, Kansas City, Kansas State University, open-plan layout, green architecture, natural light

Affordable housing, duplex in Kansas City, Design+Make Studio, El Dorado Inc., Studio Build, low-income housing, Kansas City, Kansas State University, open-plan layout, green architecture, natural light

Affordable housing, duplex in Kansas City, Design+Make Studio, El Dorado Inc., Studio Build, low-income housing, Kansas City, Kansas State University, open-plan layout, green architecture, natural light