2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XI

Welcome back to another week of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! In Week XI, we highlight student projects that use space as an avenue to create equitable community resources. From neighborhood civic buildings to multi-faceted housing units, this week’s featured projects address bridging societal gaps and emphasize the importance of creating opportunities for social interaction and dialogue between diverse communities. By taking a look at the projects below, you will learn how each student project proposes a space that promotes inclusivity and fosters community connections.

Center for Tolerance by Rebecca Dejenie, B.Arch‘23
The Boston Architectural College | Advisors: Peter Martin and Robert Gillig

This design imagines the Roxbury Crossing station as a free station as it becomes a new node for the city of Boston. The Center for Tolerance is a civic building that would allow different activities from music studios, makerspaces, food court, material exchange library, multi-purpose classrooms, exhibits, offices, studios, therapy clinics, and meditation spaces, to gardens with seats to encourage users to sit and converse with one another. As the site is located on the border of two neighborhoods, it will provide a spatial bridge for people from different backgrounds to come together to heal. This building will be used as a resource for all – especially those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. This building is a representation of what equity in the built environment can look like.

This project was awarded the Best of B. Arch Degree Project 2023.

Dis-Luxury from Luxury: Inequality Brought by Consumerism and Luxury Reimagining by Eduardo A. Caraballo-Arroyo B.Arch ‘23
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico | Advisors: Pedro A. Rosario-Torres, Luis V. Badillo-Lozano & Manuel De Lemos-Zuazaga

In Curitiba, Brazil, an architectural project is reimagining luxury and addressing social division to foster a community that values inclusivity, sustainability, and social equity. By challenging the pursuit of material wealth and status, this project aims to create an inclusive society where individuals feel fulfilled and valued. The project recognizes that luxury is often associated with abundance and comfort but can lead to marginalization, inequality, scarcity, and disconnection within communities. In a capitalist and consumerist society, luxury is marketed as an asset of ease and comfort, perpetuating social divisions and excluding those who cannot afford it. To address this problem, the architectural project seeks to interconnect both ends of the wealth spectrum through spaces that foster communication, action, and self-development.

The objective is to design an urban-social space that combines the rewards and necessities derived from luxury. This space offers physiological resources, developmental opportunities, a sense of belonging, and luxurious experiences, becoming a social equalizer and a support system for the community. By emphasizing the emotions associated with luxury, such as power, confidence, security, and contemplation/enjoyment, the project creates spaces for interactions and community communication. Elements such as small-scale farming, community/cultural integration, open spaces for social and community activities, and emancipatory and cultural educational spaces are included in the program. The project also aims to reduce limitations by embracing degrowth and minimalist systems.

The main strategy revolves around luxury as an emotional reaction. Luxury consumption triggers psychological responses associated with trust, power, contentment, and security. The architectural design incorporates pathways and axes that lead towards focus areas, lifting the first level and creating porous volumes to enhance openness and connection. Strategically positioned openings offer views towards the focus areas, creating voids and spaces that provide experiential and spatial experiences. By implementing this design, the project aims to address luxury inequality, foster social cohesion, and create spaces that promote inclusivity, equal access to resources, and a sense of well-being for all members of society. Through its transformative power, this project challenges conventional notions of luxury and redefines its role in creating a more connected and equitable world.

Instagram: @_eaca23

Kordilyera Vernacular Inspired Interpretive Center in Paradise Hills, San Diego by Greco Cosente, B. Arch ‘23
NewSchool of Architecture and Design |Advisor: Raúl Díaz

With historical and cultural aspects of Paradise Hills being mainly single-family dwellings from the 1950s and its relation to the military, specifically the navy, a demographic group of the Filipino population has emerged throughout the years. Generic designs of suburban parks do not cater to the needs of the current population. In an attempt to advance green space, park designs drawing from culture with the architectural language of pavilions are explored. The project caters to bridging the gap between community park design and Filipino residents through a Kordilyera-inspired Interpretive Center in Paradise Hills, San Diego; A reinstitution of cultural identity for U.S.-born Filipino-Americans.

The project was awarded the Outstanding Design Award – Degree Project.

U Belong: A New Live/Work Housing Prototype by Jada Rezac and Margaret Phillips, M. Arch ‘23
Kansas State University |Advisor: Zhan Chen – Assistant Professor

The current housing crisis in the US challenges architecture to address a critical need while presenting the opportunity to propose new solutions. The studio, titled: In With the New, operates as a laboratory in which to explore innovative possibilities for multi-family living. Students design new models that reframe housing as a multi-faceted domain, able to navigate various scenarios and support diverse communities.

Jada and Margaret’s project responds to the evolving needs of contemporary living by integrating residential units and workspaces. The project uses a calibrated arrangement of U-shaped modules to create new possibilities for both living and working.

The unit clusters maintain a high degree of porosity, which allows more access to natural light and promotes cross ventilation. These considerations enhance human comfort and productivity while presenting an innovative strategy for improving the overall health of its inhabitants.

The relationship between living and working units and their arrangement also seeks to alleviate social isolation. The units are grouped into smaller neighborhoods, fostering familiarity and more meaningful social interactions. Communal spaces within these neighborhoods and intersecting circulation paths also help build a stronger sense of community within a large complex.

The project was nominated for the Nominated for the Heintzelman Prize at Kansas State University.

Instagram: @jadarezac ; @margaret_rose_phillips ; @studiozhan

See you next week for the next installment of the Student Showcase!

LSU Student Partner with Nonprofits to Serve the Community

What began as a University service learning course in 2012 is now connecting community members across socioeconomic and racial boundaries in the form of nonprofit organization Mid City Studio.

The studio stemmed from Executive Director and School of Architecture professional in-residence William Doran’s architecture and design class. Students partnered with a local nonprofit each semester to develop architecture projects the area needed. Once Doran began interacting with business professionals across the city, he created Mid City Studio as an umbrella coalition to enact all of his initiatives under.

For one of their first projects, the students collaborated with Mid City Redevelopment Alliance to transform the Laurel Street Fire House into a fireman’s museum. When the project was finished, they held a gathering celebrating the opening, and local residents and firemen brought pictures that were projected onto the back of the converted building. The event allowed for students to get to know the neighborhood and the people behind the project, Doran said.

After teaching the University course for three years, Doran recognized the need for education-based, community-focused outreach in the Mid City area and was inspired to make the studio more than a collection of student projects, he said.

To Doran, design isn’t just the way a city is laid out on paper — it’s a culmination of residents’ histories and experiences. This perspective is embodied in the studio’s #IAMMIDCITY social media campaign.

Doran’s class developed the hashtag in 2014 to create a space for community art. They took various photos tagged with the hashtag on Instagram and worked with Letterman’s Blueprints to display aluminum panels of the images outside the store. All of the photos encouraged a strong sense of identity and pride in Mid City, Doran said.

“An important element with building community is identifying with the place that you live,” he said.

This project eventually grew into the Spain Street Park installation and #IAMMIDCITY Educational Program in 2016. Doran and Mid City Studio Creative Director Lynley Farris created a third grade-level program used in Dufrocq and Bernard Terrace elementary schools in Mid City.

The curriculum educated children on the history of the neighborhood. The children made maps and timelines, citing their schools, favorite stores, and homes around the area, and decorated their own wooden hashtag. They were also given disposable cameras to take pictures of their world, Doran said.

From there, the photos were printed and put on display in the Spain Street Park.  As they were setting up, Doran said,  a young girl walked up and recognized her friends’ photos on the panels. It worked, he said — they were succeeding at connecting community members.

One of the most powerful aspects of the park installment lies in a graffiti tribute. Doran said the group noticed a “RIP,” in remembrance of a fallen member of the community. The organization brought in a local graffiti artist to create a large, beautiful work in their memory.

“This project embodies our mission,” Doran said “[We] are helping to educate people about where they live, activating different spaces, and connecting different people.”

Another community engagement event Mid City Studio puts on is Park(ing) Day, which originated in San Francisco. The event encourages people to re-examine the way space is used in cities, specifically parking space. In this social experiment, people use metered parking spaces for creative expression or education to “activate vacancy,” Doran said. His class developed three sectors for the event: a free library, a pop-up art exhibit, and planters that taught people the importance of healthy foods.

Since then, the studio acquired its nonprofit status in 2016 and continues to  promote various projects by building on the versatile, rich history Mid City already possesses, the executive director said.

“Our goal is to look at design as a community process, igniting existing resources and connecting what’s already there to create something new,” Doran said.

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