Monday, February 15, 2010

Does My Sister's House Foster Community?

There are several things about the layout of the My Sister's House which encourage resident interaction. There are five suites that are clustered together in the space. These rooms are across the hall from each other, allowing to occupants to see more of one another. The kitchen is small. Though this may seem negative, it forces the residents to interact together during meal time. Also, the common areas are large enough for everyone to be included in group activities.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Do Cyclist have a Feeling of Community?

video video

Makeshift Shelter Experience

On January 20, 2010 students in Suzanne Cabrera and Stephanie Brooker’s IAR 202-01 studio course were issued their first assignment. “Makeshift shelter” was the title of the project. Students in groups of four and five had to create a shelter out of found objects. There were five groups total. Every group was assigned a specific room theme. Ours was to be constructed as a study. The combined installations, would to create a makeshift community including a sleeping, study, socializing, snacking, and sketching room. One goal was to have students really understand the process of designing as a group. Everyone considered all the parameters they had to meet, processed the ways in which they could be achieved, then designed by physically constructing the installation. In addition, because of the recent earthquake in Haiti, students strived to create an awareness of similar community dwellings. This project enabled every student to have key learning experiences of self, others, change, timing, and design techniques.

My group was given the objective to build a “makeshift study”. All group members contributed stronger in some areas than others. When it was time to focus on the limited five materials, I rummaged for cardboard, plastic sheeting, fabric, paper, and some type of structural supports. Ultimately, I found plenty of everything. The most helpful item was a collection of pvc angle strips, which were used as columns and beams. I worked on the fabrication and construction of the interior and exterior of the shelter. I was the first to snap photos. As a result, I became the official photographer. I put in long hours to finish interior decorative items and the final assembling of the exterior elements.

Tracey ignited the idea of creating a more organic structure, which led to the final overall shape and form of the interior, its objects, and the exterior. Ino got his hands dirty, initially collecting materials, then helping to fabricate the exterior, while also working on the floor plans. Kalani brained stormed on ideas for the desktop, helped with exterior and final construction, and created a beautiful storyboard. Most members jumped in and took leadership over certain parts of the project.
The most difficult situation we encountered was the change in the project parameters. Initially, we were told the shelter could be built from any found objects. However, on the next day of class, the instructors limited us to five materials. The days before this, we had already collected various materials that inspired us. The restrictions made us focus on what items we could find the most of, that gave us various capabilities to design with, and that maintained structural integrity. We found such attributes with cardboard, paper, plastic sheeting, fabric, and pvc beams. This same situation was problematic with our binders. As a result, because of the items we had the most of, we narrowed those down to screws and tape.

The last limitation was on the size. We should have asked about this early on, especially our group. We had already developed so many ideas around a particular shape, but it did not fit within those size parameters. All the other spaces allotted were primarily square, while ours needed to be rectangular. Though at the time it seemed limiting, in the end, it was one of the best suggestions we were given. This change sparked our imaginations for a shelter which was more “outside of the box”. We developed shapes and exterior forms that seemed more inviting to the occupant. Everyone settled on an organic undulating exterior shape. All of what we initially considered road blocks, contributed to our creative ways of construction, making our presentations more unified and imaginative. I believe this was to our greatest benefit.
The sketchbooks and modeling were ideal for visualizing the final project.

Each group member was able to get their points across by documenting their thoughts on paper. When explanation wasn’t enough, we turned to our sketchbooks to draw out our thoughts so others could comprehend them. The book also allowed us to make sure everyone was on the same page regarding the design of the overall project and what it should convey. There were times when even though we all agreed on using organic shapes, once someone’s idea was drawn, it did not reflect that concept. The sketchbook made it easy to troubleshoot any problems before they occurred. The model was extra important. The modeling process helped some members understand how the final structure would successfully be built. The sketchbook and model were key tools in the development and execution of our ideas and final installation.

Overall, I feel that I and my group members obtained key learning experiences of self, others, change, timing, and design techniques. Some of these seemed like roadblocks. However, what we took away was that they were all important factors of fully developing our ideas. Our experiences, design, and problem solving skills were, all enhanced by the tools and restrictions of the project. Based on all the knowledge we’ve obtained, if we had to do it all over again, it would only be more dynamic.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The physical development of a community ultimately results in the overall social development of the residents. Housing can be created in various manners that affect the overall social community. Developers use zoning laws, planned unit development, gentrification, and lifestyle concepts to construct dwellings. All of these techniques impact whether or not the residents can move forward in making a unified social community atmosphere.
The planned unit development (PUD) appears to be the most promising tool for developing successful mixed housing and community. It makes the most use of the land, creates various size homes, makes sewer, water and roadways convenient, and welcomes diversity amongst it’s neighborhood. The broadest national community resides in such developments.
Housing clusters that are gated or restricted to higher income applicants, encompass less of the overall population. Those focused on attracting owners of a similar lifestyle, will have the success of a social interacting community. However, if a gated community is built only to address safety issues, the concept of community will not thrive.
Housing development is a key factor in creating a social community. The residents will act upon environments that are appealing and convenient to their needs. If structures are built solely for the purpose of sheltering humans or building eye-catching homes, they are not answering all the needs of a neighborhood’s community.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fostering Community

Honeycomb Apartments
Izola, Slovenia
Ofis Arhitekti

About Honeycomb Apartments

• Located on the coast of Izola, Slovenia. This seaside structure appeals to young, small families and couples.
• There was increased need for small, affordable housing for these young families.
• Constructed for low-income residency.
• The concept of a rhythmic beehive was an attempt to foster community by paralleling the drive of worker bees in the hive, but was unsuccessful.
• The Honeycomb Housing Complex brings together people of similar backgrounds, and social and economic standing in one building, but gives them no reason to interact or form a community.
• The staggered elevations of the balconies is successful for creating private space between neighbors.

Slovenia's Past Housing Challenges

• By end of 1980s housing inefficient
• Home ownership based on favorable credit
• Home ownership in urban areas were not affordable, over priced for most people
• Rental units affordable, but scarce
• cost to construct & maintenance was higher than the rental cost
• housing shortages underestimated

Maritime Youth House
Copenhagen, Denmark
Bjarke Ingels Group

About Maritime Youth House

• Scandinavian architecture has been one that increases its program for years. The architects continually try to combine many public places into one functional whole.
• This architecture focuses on form and functionality, and inspiration.
• The Maritime Youth House was a special challenge because it was essential that the space focused on two clients: a sailing club and a Children’s center.
• Some important programming issues were giving the children enough safe space to play and also allowing mooring space for the boats.
• Another issue was the site. The site of the construction was riddled with polluted topsoil, which the architects ingeniously decided to build over.
• The architects decided to build a large, elevated wooden deck over the contaminated land, allowing a sprawling space for the children to play and openings underneath for the boats to moor.
• The gently sloping deck fosters community by allowing a great space for the children and center supervisors to interact.
• Indirectly, the space allows sailing club members to interact with the Youth House as well by keeping them connected.
• The fascinating deck serves as the focal point of the project. It is unexpected, inviting, and draws many people to come enjoy the space together.


Mandic, S., & Rop, T. New housing challenges in Slovenia
Cities, Volume 10, Issue 3, August 1993, Pages 237-245

Paulsson, Thoman. Scandinavian Architecture. 1st. Bristol, England: Western Printing Services Ltd., 1959. 239-244. Print.

Lobodzinska, Barbara. Family, Women, and Employment In Central-Eastern Europe. 1st. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. 230-231. Print.