University District: Expect the Unexpected

Melinda Sabeti

With 45,000 students attending the University of Washington, residences surrounding campus are brimming with renters. With property owners desiring a greater profit margin, traditional homes have been modified to accommodate greater numbers of people. For example, the 100 year old single family home attached to my apartment had its entrance moved, it's dining room turned into a bedroom, a niche made and doors closed off to accommodate a bike rack and new construction sandwiched against it; blocking off kitchen windows and back door. The manager would have torn down the home and further replicated the new apartment construction, but because people are still willing to rent the house, it wasn't worth the cost of renovation. Density has made the U-district a place to formally and socially expect the unexpected. Appropriating space to fulfill needs has become commonplace in infrastructure of U-district homes and in the actions of the tenants who inhabit them. Everyday occurrences in response to close quarters yield clever solutions including moving upholstered furniture outdoors, utilizing rooftops, turning porches into makeshift living rooms, and greenroofs over garages.

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