Kanye West Plans Affordable Housing Inspired By Star Wars
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Entertainment mogul Kanye West appears to be moving forward with plans to develop affordable housing, following up on a tweet he made last year saying he was launching an architecture arm called Yeezy home.
West's plans call for affordable housing in the San Francisco area, which has a notable lack of it. The homes will at least superficially resemble the structures on the fictional planet Tatooine from the Star Wars movies, Forbes reports.
The Star Wars character Luke Skywalker lived in one such vaguely igloo-like home in the first movie before bad guys destroyed it. The sets for the 1977 film were created by John Barry, Norman Reynolds and Leslie Dilley, British designers who won an Oscar for their work on Star Wars.
"Inspired by Luke Skywalker’s childhood home, West has been working with a team to design prefabricated structures that sport the same austere aesthetic, with the goal of deploying them as low-income housing units,” Forbes’ Zack O’Malley wrote.
West suggested the units could be sunk into the ground and used as housing for the homeless. https://t.co/hiWWqAGBPg— Dezeen (@dezeen) July 12, 2019
Beyond West's reported love of Star Wars, the design choice mirrors his other creations. His reported design aesthetic — austere minimalism and monochromism — is evident in his Yeezy clothing and Adidas shoe lines. His architectural endeavors will likely be along the same lines, Popular Mechanics reports.
Though the Star Wars design theme has been well-publicized, not many other details about West's plans have emerged yet, including how many units might be developed, where they will be or how much they will rent for.
West has made forays into other commercial real estate projects recently. Late last year, for instance, he pledged to be an investor in a project to renovate the Avalon Regal Theater in Chicago.
There is skepticism about West's affordable housing ideas.
"While West’s investment in low-income housing is admirable, his well-documented dedication to spectacle over substance raises some serious questions," Slate wrote. "Is Kanye West really interested in helping the homeless or is the project, like the Death Star, another monument to vanity?"
Certainly the need for affordable housing is real, since the Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. Even high-income tech workers are having a hard time buying a house in the market, Vox reports. In San Francisco, the average home value is around $1.34M, and the median down payment needed to buy one is about $250K.
In the rental market, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties are tied for most expensive county in the country, SFGate reports.
Policymakers are at loggerheads about what to do about the situation, which has gotten so bad that Google is devoting $1B toward efforts to address the Bay Area housing crisis. Over the next decade, the company will repurpose at least $750M of its land as housing, entailing an extensive rezoning effort in South Bay cities such as Sunnyvale.