Today, April 1, the Chapel Hill Planning Department is preparing a new proclamation to help address the housing shortage while also acknowledging the town’s rich architectural heritage.
Housing Choices for Peasants and Lords, or, colloquially, Missing Medieval Housing, is designed to supply housing for impoverished lower classes as well as royalty who inherited their title from their parents.
The proposal is in response to a recent petition by the Chapel Hill Town Council, who, after reviewing a request to add such luxuries as accessible toilets to the town’s lone example of Medieval architecture, the Gimghoul Castle (c. 1926), decided that the town needed to embrace architectural styles that represented the town’s actual social systems.
“Much of Chapel Hill was built in the decades following World War II,” Glendon Gilbert, president of Encase Chapel Hill In Amber, a local advocacy organization, said. “Many architects in this period sought to design houses that were affordable to the middle classes and blended in with their surroundings. It has become clear that this is sending the wrong message to would-be home buyers and, god forbid, renters, so we thought if we added architectural details from the Medieval period people might better understand Chapel Hill’s true values.”
This novel proposal will include turning the town’s “low stone walls” into high walls with turrets. If a resident walls off their property from the outside world, they can then build thatched huts for peasants who can live on their property out of sight of any others who might be offended by the sight of people who live on less than $500 a day.
In addition, a special provision will be made for the construction of moats to handle excess stormwater.
One of the more controversial parts of the proposal permits the construction of new castles, provided they are built on a lot that is at least 10 furlong across and has a drawbridge. The town is considering waiving parking requirements if the property developer is willing to build stables for horses.
There are also concerns about the heights of the new castles. One council member is pushing for stepbacks, an unusual, perhaps unprecedented, mode of castle design in which the walls of the castle are stepped back after going up two stories in height, like a staircase.