“Amplify” is a new, incremental approach to housing that can reduce common cost, time, and permit-related barriers for Chicago homeowners. This proposed framework builds on existing Chicago Zoning Ordinance (CZO) concepts and local labor to provide quality design and quick approval for new, easily-adaptable urban homes.
Amplify activates Chicago’s wealth of talented architects to create a database of incremental housing plans designed with future expansion in-mind. These can be as simple as a one-story home with an unfinished basement. The database will include numerous expansion modules - for both the primary home, and expansion options for a live-work garage - which could be activated for future use depending on the owner’s individual needs. By simplifying the renovation permit process, homeowners will be able to avoid a costly major renovation and only build what they need, when they need it.
Popularized by Sears Roebuck & Co. in the early 20th century, the concept of high-quality “kit homes” has regained momentum throughout the country in recent years. Chicago’s unique building codes currently make such products impractical in our city, but by designing a series of homes that are tailored to local code and climate considerations, the “kit home” approach could be adopted. For a city with standard lot sizes, a surplus of vacant parcels, flat terrain, and a proud tradition of local tradesmen, this is a concept with transformational civic potential.