SinHei Kwok Rethinks Multi-Family Housing in Phoenix

Architect and developer SinHei Kowk has completed Polker, a six-unit multifamily project in the Historic Garfield neighborhood near downtown Phoenix, Arizona. Featuring two-bedroom and loft-style units, the project reconsiders its surrounding context of single family houses. Polker provides a new kind of residence for urban dwellers who do not want to live in a single-family home or big box apartment, but would like to live and work closer to downtown.

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© Roehner + Ryan
© Roehner + Ryan

Polker was designed to create a sense of community. Phoenix has been infamous for urban sprawl, with single family housing developments since the 1950s. In response to this unsustainable phenomenon, SinHei took a different approach, and acting as owner/developer, decided to create a multifamily development with a higher density using a typical residential lot size (140’x50’). With a denser development, this project served as a prototype of urban infill development to help build a sustainable, walkable city.

© Roehner + Ryan
© Roehner + Ryan
© Roehner + Ryan
© Roehner + Ryan

Inspired by 100-year-old pyramid cottages within the historic neighborhood, the building’s massing takes cues from the surrounding context with same pitch roof form. In the loft style units, the typical pitch roof attic turned into a creative loft space. All units are connected to individual shaded outdoor patios with sliding doors to bring the outdoor experience into the interior space. A light well is introduced at the corner of the loft units to bring a secondary source of natural light into the bathroom, loft space and common area.

© Roehner + Ryan
© Roehner + Ryan
© Roehner + Ryan
© Roehner + Ryan

SinHei also reinterpreted the iconic front porches of the Historic Garfield neighborhood. The approach kept the same front porch concept, encouraging dwellers to meet and interact with their neighbors. This front porch is constructed with a 30-foot wide cantilevered concrete slab. During nighttime, it becomes a floating porch with LED lights that light up below the slab. Exterior grade aluminum composite panels were used to provide a clean, modern look while eliminating grout joints. Inspired by Chinese landscape paintings, the horizontal shape of the window facing west captured the constantly changing skyline of downtown while limiting heat gain from the summer sun.