The Vera, an elevated affordable housing community, is developed specifically for low-income residents. Supporting their wellbeing is at the heart of our cohesive design concept, meant to evoke harmony and cohesiveness within this affordable community. Knowing the challenges faced by people transitioning from houselessness, BRIDGE Housing asked us to design a calming and quiet space, embracing diversity of residents, for people of all ages, incomes, and levels of risk, within a safe and secure environment.
Aligned with the architectural approach, weaving plays a central role in the interior design programming and on-site community resources available to uplift residents. Both reinforce the idea of people working together to create a tightly woven textile of diverse stories that thread together—where each life strengthens and supports the collective whole. The Vera’s programming champions low-income residents: Impact NW, a homelessness-prevention nonprofit, has offices on the ground floor and provides programs for job training and continuing education designed to help residents become and stay self-sufficient. We also designed a flexible space for educational workshops, community events, and everyday resident use. This approach interconnects private experiences in a public space, so everyone can have a supportive home.
At ground level, the Vera’s open community space is inspired by natural materials and organic forms with a strong physical connection to the outside, which is unique among affordable housing projects. The soothing color palette throughout expresses warmth through natural wood tones, bright accents of magenta and tangerine, contrasting against exposed concrete and smokey blue hues. The welcoming design feature wall behind the front desk is made of custom wood slats mimicking the flowing movement of the nearby Willamette River and compliments the building’s Northwest nature-inspired artwork. A strong visual connection from the community kitchen and laundry areas to the outside greenspace, walkways, and playground promote transparency and openness, allowing parents to keep an eye on kids while taking care of everyday tasks.
Inside each of the Vera’s 203 units, contemporary finishes rival those of its market-rate neighbors, with high ceilings, minimal soffits, and a palette of light, warm color tones complementing neutral wood. Floor-to-ceiling windows give dramatic views of the South Waterfront, the Willamette River, and the city – an uncommon feature in affordable housing design.
The Vera was only possible with our dynamic, collaborative team’s dedication and passion for our shared vision: Beautiful and open affordable housing that inspires its residents, supports social bonds, and stands proudly with its market-rate neighbors.