SinHei Kwok Rethinks Multi-Family Housing in Phoenix

SinHei Kwok, an architect and developer, has completed Polker. It is a six-unit multifamily development in Historic Garfield, near Phoenix, Arizona. The project features two-bedroom units and loft-style units. It also challenges the traditional context of single-family houses. Polker is a new type of apartment for urban dwellers who don’t want to live in a big-box apartment or single-family home but prefer to live closer to the city.

© Roehner + Ryan

Polker was created to foster a sense community. Since the 1950s, Phoenix has been known for its urban sprawl. Single-family housing developments have been common in Phoenix. SinHei, acting as developer/owner, created a multifamily community with a higher density and a smaller residential lot (140×50). This project was a model of urban infill development that helped to build a walkable, sustainable city.

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

The building was inspired by the 100-year-old pyramid-shaped cottages in the historic neighborhood. Its massing draws inspiration from the same pitch roof as the surrounding context. The loft-style units transform the traditional pitch roof attic into a creative loft space. To bring the outdoors into the interior, all units have their own shaded patios that can be opened with sliding doors. To provide additional natural light to the bathroom, loft area and common space, a light well has been installed at one corner of each loft unit.

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

SinHei also reinterpreted iconic front porches from the Historic Garfield neighborhood. This approach maintained the same front porch concept and encouraged residents to interact with one another. The 30-foot-wide slab of concrete is used to construct this front porch. It transforms into a floating porch at night with LED lights below it. The exterior grade aluminum composite panels were used for a modern, clean look without grout joints. The horizontal design of the window, which faces west, was inspired by Chinese landscape paintings. It also captures the changing skyline of downtown while limiting heat loss from the summer sun.