The city corner comes alive with 8th + Howard/SOMA Studios' undulating edge, bright geometric mural, bustling corner market, and hand-crafted glass and steel gate. An eclectic mix of artists, immigrants, veterans, and young people have made these 162 units of affordable housing their home in San Francisco.
We visited 8th + Howard/SOMA Studios with photographer Bill Owens to meet the folks and families living in this unique affordable housing project—combining SRO-style units and family apartments—in San Francisco's SOMA neighborhood.
Unbundled parking frees up space for a child-care center and 19,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail, including an organic market. The building is visually rich, with a modern patchwork mural punctuated by long windows on one side, a sinuous wall creating curving rooms on the other. The careful, yet playful, design allows for a depth of detail uncommon in affordable housing.
This five-story complex is divided in two: The studio side houses modern single-occupancy studios with private baths; the family side features affordable family apartments. Both sides enjoy private courtyards and a wealth of community services.
Garden entry provides a chance to decompress from the gritty urban neighborhood. Image: Cesar Rubio.
The gap in the urban edge provides a view into the softer interior open space, sharing it with the civic whole. Entrances to the housing are through semipublic landscaped courtyards that also serve as outdoor green space for public functions.