Gentrification Vaccine: A Pioneering Housing Paradigm for Long Beach

Honor Award

Residential Design

Long Beach, California, United States
Shengtao Shen, Student International ASLA; Yifei Liang, Student International ASLA;
Faculty Advisors: Jia Zhong; Qinyun Yang;
Sichuan Agricultural University
Sichuan University

A strong submission with an excellent narrative, strategies and graphics issue of gentrification which can be strengthened defining of housing development impacts the economics of the community. A huge issue to tackle, and great to see the use of landscape architecture to lead this effort. Modularity is a creative approach to reduce costs which can be transferred to shared community benefits.

- 2023 Awards Jury

Project Statement

As people suffer from the aftermath of gentrification: homelessness, culture inadequacies, etc., will this be the fate that awaits Long Beach? In response to these concerns, this project proposes a visionary solution: the creation of a new residential neighborhood in Westside South Long Beach. By reconfiguring the existing heavy industrial area, introducing new industries, implementing rent control policies, and creating an efficient material flow cycle, WSLB will experience a transformation from a "diesel dead zone" to a vibrant waterfront residential community. The "WSLB mode" project aims to address the displacement caused by gentrification head-on and is pioneering for environmental sustainability, social equity and cultural vitality.

Project Narrative

"The American Dream"  tells us that homeownership is possible for those who work hard and spend wisely. And it is considered a benchmark of success that promotes stability and wealth; as it is often equated with social, health and economic benefits. However, despite the prosperity that homeownership brings to individuals and the economy, it is becoming increasingly out of reach for many Americans.

Context and Challenges

In 2021, RealtyHop reports that nearly two-thirds of Long Beachians' income goes to pay the monthly mortgage and taxes on the city's average-priced homes, making it one of the top five most expensive places to buy a home in the country. The site is sited in Long Beach West, known as the Diesel Dead Zone, adjacent to the 710 Freeway and the Port of Long Beach. Toxic emissions have left local residents suffering from air pollution and exhibiting alarming asthma rates. Meanwhile, many climate models indicate that coastal Long Beach South will be inundated by the next century.

Opportunities and Proposals

We propose to create a new residential area in the southwest of Long Beach, establishing a new housing paradigm through the incorporation of new industries and businesses. In order to better defend against the problems of gentrification, we propose a more reasonable rent policy that will provide job opportunities for the residents while reducing certain rent. Our proposal will serve as a new housing model for the City of Long Beach as well as a model for addressing gentrification issues. Through the joint efforts of the residents, will make WSLB a new type of settlement with a friendly environment, equal housing and a flourishing culture.

Rent Policy

The 'Work for Rent Discount' policy is designed for homeless and unaffordable residents. They receive a discount on their rent based on the number of jobs they contribute. The site is divided into four divisions with corresponding job opportunities including: light industry, commerce, agriculture and pollution treatment.


The housing will use dumped shipping containers as housing modules designed for four main types of groups, including working individuals, single-parent families, nuclear families and partners. Each unit is set on a 6 x 18 meter grid, allowing for adaptation within the functional spaces through modular furniture.


The housing consists of three floors, with the upper two floors used for residential functions and the ground floor used as resilient workspace. The type of the workspace determines the way in which the complex is grouped. For instance, the industrial zone is enclosed on three sides to create ground floor storage spaces and courtyards on top of it. While the agricultural area combines units and vertical farms through semi-enclosures, allowing each household to have farmland.

Flooding and Pollution

 In response to the potential risk of sea level rise, the first floor is designed as a "resilient floor". Each resilient zone is connected to the underground water network and eventually to a central axis-shaped water body, as landscape in the central park. The block near the 710 freeway is designed as a filter barrier by planting trees that will absorb airborne particles. The site's original heavy industry will be replaced with cleaner, light industry.

The Future of WSLB

WSLB residents will no longer be homeless or forced to leave. The musical and cultural DNA will be inherited by all neighbors and revels a prosperous future for Long Beach.