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The live-work housing was one of our housing types design in our Housing Alternative module. The concept of live-work housing is particularly of interest to me since its flexibility and feasibility gave dynamic changes in urban settings. The concept also called zero commute housing where both residential and workspaces are built within one block of property to allowing residents to work from within a short distance.

In terms of economic, this type of setup is affordable because it minimises the amount of money used for renting both a work and residential space. Transportation costs are also eliminated for this equation, further reducing the cost of living. Such a setting not only allows flexibility of time but also allows structures that were once considered irrelevant. In addition, this type of urban concept is an opportunity for people to create economic income even in uncertain economic times. Moreover, in the economic era, businesses are not able to pay for rent in many cases. This arrangement would ensure that owners would not plunge into an economic tension of life after accumulated arrears.

Time is saved in the process because residents do not need to take the transportation between the residential and office space, so the transportation costs have also been eliminated. The nature of dynamic demographic factor is the reason why this phenomenon has a significant impact on the live-work designs.

Ecologically, the combination of this setup would reduce the amount of carbon emissions associated with building up many buildings and spaces. This would positively contribute to climate change. There are also social benefits of this kind of urban design by contributing to security in communities and revitalise social communities. Subsequently, this assists to contribute to a vibrant community for both working and living.

The live-work design in urban setups may be categorised as “loft” housing where the same living space is used for working characterised by open spaces and high ceilings, which is called “live-with” (Figure 1).  Another category of this urban design is “live-near” that there is physical separation of a structure through a floor or ceiling (Figure 2). This type of live-work sounds not as flexible as “live-with”. Actually, it is also flexible for users. For instance, a three floors “live-near” building may be used as half of the first floor or the whole first floor, even both first and second floors for commercial space, which depends on economic opportunities in neighbourhoods and the development of its own business. In terms of “live-nearby”, it refers to design where there are commercial and residential building within the same vicinity but different structures (Figure 3). This could be an auto repair shop or courier service shop within the same location as residential structures.

                                                               Figure 1 live-with                Figure 2 live-near           Figure 3 live-nearby

The figure 4 shows a live-work housing where there are housing lofts that combine both living and working space. As seen, the house has high ceilings, plenty of light and open spaces allowing it to facilitate both living and working space.

Figure 4 The Elgin Artspace Lofts


Artspace Project Portfolio. 2012. Unpublished. Artspace, 250 Third Avenue North, Suite 50, Minneapolis, MN 55401: p. 12.

Olson, E., & Urness, M. (2014). Zero-Commute Futures: Opportunities for Live/Work Housing in North Saint Paul.


School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

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