Can architects design attractive homes for developing areas that won’t feed into gentrification? That’s what Interface Studio Architects (ISA) set off to achieve with Folsom Powerhouse, a LEED Platinum-certified development in Philadelphia. Located in the city’s rapidly developing Francisville neighborhood, the Powerhouse scheme combines environmentally friendly features with community-minded design that encourages diversity, density, and social spaces.
Made up of 31 units, Folsom Powerhouse provides single-family town homes, duplexes, and two small apartment buildings at a range of prices. Although all the living options are modern in construction, Folsom Powerhouse took inspiration from an old community feature—the stoop. To create attractive street-level social spaces, ISA created “super stoops,” a sequence of entry platforms in front of the homes large enough for impromptu gatherings with steps that double as seating. Artist Jenny Sabin was commissioned to create beautiful fabricated metal handrail panels to make the stoops even more attractive.
The Folsom Powerhouse’s facades are made up of a patchwork of corrugated metal, timber cladding, and energy-efficient windows. Green roofs that top the buildings manage stormwater, as do the rain gardens on the street level. The corner buildings are topped with solar panels that generate electricity for the development.
Images by Sam Oberter