Castles in the air: Innovative designs for communal living

(CNN)As cities around the world try to cope with housing and land shortages, the need for apartment buildings has never been greater.

It's a reality architects are keenly aware of, with many having proposed radical, beautiful new models for apartment living, including towers that change shape, absorb carbon, and break up when you do.
However, while the rise in designer apartments has been a boon for top-earners in search of inventive new living quarters, affordable options with the same quality and creativity remain scarce.
"It is convenient as well as financially necessary to live in an apartment. That has raised the recognition of apartments as a pattern of living. But unfortunately in Britain and America, the provision of really high quality, affordable apartments has lagged, and has in fact fallen short of the need," Michael Webb, author of "Building Community: New Apartment Architecture," told CNN over the phone, blaming "the lack of support (for creative architects) from private developers, who only want to make a quick profit, or from cities, who've dropped out of the housing market."
"The tragedy is that the best architects worked for public housing authorities or nonprofit housing associations for a number of years, and now through privatization, they no longer can," he added.
In "Building Community," Webb highlights 30 apartments, designed by internationally renowned firms like Gehry Architects, BIG and OMA, that truly defy convention.
From a sustainable urban three house in Turin, Italy to an interlocking megastructure in Singapore, these apartments "suggest models for how you can provide decent housing for people of every income level, from the very poor to the very rich, and in between."
"They are beacons of sanity and imagination that show how much better we could live, if only architects were liberated to do their own thing," Webb says.
"The basics of good design haven't changed: space, light, privacy, good sound insulation so you're not listening to your neighbors and traffic outside. These are the qualities that good architects can bring, but they can only do it if someone's going to commission them."
Check out the gallery above for some of the world's most innovative apartment buildings.
"Building Community: New Apartment Architecture" by Michael Webb, published by Thames & Hudson, is out now.