Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Sister's House

I feel that My Sister’s House is a successful example of fostering community among young mothers. This happens though the common situations and struggles that these women gave though and will overcome. Within the actual space, I feel that the kitchen is the most central point where everyone in the house can come together and socialize and get to know each other better. Everyone must eat so the kitchen is a natural gathering point.

Although each woman would have her own room to spend her private time with herself or her child, it still gives a places for each woman to have private conversation with another if it was needed. The common ages and situations among the woman are a unifying point that will allow the formation of community.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Makeshift Shelter Reflection

As a hands on thinker the Makeshift Shelter project allowed me to design in a way that I really enjoy and can flourish. While working with a team I was able to construct a functioning shelter which can be used as a haven for socializing while only using materials that were found. Being restricted to only using reclaimed materials helped to connect this project to the devastating situation that the earthquake in Haiti has caused as well as allow us to experience what the people of Haiti are going through. Between the beginning processes though the construction to seeing the final outcome of our project we always had Haiti in mind.

Beginning this project, my group members and I got together and came up with an initial plan for our interaction of socializing. We brainstormed what the definition of socializing would be and what kind of structure would allow for the most optimal way to invite conversation among people. After researching, we decided that a circular or many sided structure would allow for the most interaction and still enable all the participants to see each other. Once we decided on a hexagon we move on to think of what kind of materials we could use as the structure. While working with some cardboard we found a way to manipulate it into a triangle at such an angle to create a perfect hexagon. The restriction of five materials at first was a very stressful discovery but we found that it helped tremendously in the design of our shelter and created a stronger design overall.

The largest obstacles we experienced while designing and building the structure were how well the cardboard structural supports would hold up the weight of the roof and the design of the roof as whole. Instead of using glue we found that plastic write created tension in the columns and allowed for them to be more structurally sound without further adhesive. The bamboo and the left over cloth from the walls created a light weight while visually interesting roof for our structure. I realized that our design was a success when we had nine people in and around our structure socializing and having a good time. I was extremely pleased with the outcome of this project. I felt that our design was cohesive with the designs of those around us and all together formed a well composed city of shelters.

This project will always remain with me because of the large scale and how hands on it was. Also, the connection to the Haiti disaster made the end product a much more rewarding experience than had it been just to create a shelter with out significance.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Article Response

It is easy for some designers to be disconnected from the people that they are supposedly designing for. This can be seen when looking at some of the communities that we have discussed this week. These designers seem to be offering only the necessities in some homes while offering luxury and what can induce too much social privacy in others. It’s strange to think that some communities that have common meeting places for people fail at fostering social interaction among the inhabitants. I grew up and still live in a small neighborhood where we do not have the luxury of a common pool, rec center, or basketball courts. But somehow we all know each other and help one another when we are in a bind.

Maybe some of these communities fail because people may not stay long term. Maybe my community flourishes because everyone, especially my direct neighbors, were living in the neighborhood since my brother was a toddler and I wasn’t even born. Maybe it’s the demographic of people that allows community to flourish. The culture in which we are raised could in fact contribute to how we interact with others as a whole. Some people who live in a fast paced world may not take the time to realize who is around them while others, like in my community, are the good ol’ country folk that welcome anyone into their homes and social networks.

I had never thought about how a sense of community should be incorporated into design until the past few weeks. It really opens my eyes to a new way and a new reason to design.

Friday, February 5, 2010

case study - commUNITY

CommUNITY Social Case Study: Cabrini Green
· During World War II, the Chicago Housing Authority began building a low rise apartment project for war workers.
· The original population of Cabrini Green reflected the area’s past ethnic mix of poor Italians, Irish, Puerto Ricans, and African Americans living among the war workers and veterans.
· The Chicago Housing Authority failed to budget money to repair buildings and maintain landscaping as they deteriorated causing horrible conditions with vermin and worsening of the structures.
· Cabrini-Green's reputation for crime and gangs rivaled the former inhabitants’ of what was commonly known as “Little Hell.”

“Over the year, the resident leaders have volunteered for any and all programs to improve the conditions at Cabrini Green in effort to ensure its continued existence. They formed local advisory council.” Larry Bennett, Janet L. Smith, and Patricia A. Wright, Where are Poor People to Live? The case of Cabrini-Green , Patricia A. Wright and Richard M. Wheelock and Carol Steel, New York, 2006
· Increasing real-estate values in the later twentieth century led housing officials to propose replacement of the complex from low income housing to mix income homes community. Pricing between $200,000 to $500.000.

· This was the largest demolition of public housing in American history and it uprooted around 40,000 who had never lived anywhere but in public housing.
· Chicago Housing Authority announces Plan for Transformation, which will spend $1.5 billion over ten years to demolish 18,000 apartments and build or rehabilitate 25,000 apartments. Earlier redevelopment plans for Cabrini-Green are included in the Plan for Transformation. New library, rehabilitated Seward Park, and new shopping center open.

· Currently there are only around 4,700 residents living in Cabrini Green, displacing the other 35,000.
· During the 1970’s American sitcom “Good Times,” was patterned after the infamous Cabrini Green to bring attention to poverty in a comedic way, with art work by famed artist, Ernie Barnes.
How was it unsuccessful?
· In the 1960’s the housing failed to foster community due to racial segregation among the multiple races inhabiting Cabrini Green
· Allowing the buildings to go into disrepair, dereliction and infestation of rodents.

How Cabrini Green Fosters CommUNITY
How was it successful?
· The community garden near Cabrini Green is used by only a few families from the complex but it has the potential to greatly foster community amongst the residents. It is open to all the communities near it and allows for more interaction among these different communities.
· The community tutoring and mentor connections create community by bringing together mentors and mentees. The mentors from outside of the community use their other social connections to help bring other people together as more mentors and people who will do other things for the community.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Special Olympics is a wonderful example of an environment that fosters community. An organization that has been around for over 40 years, the Special Olympics has provided an outlet for people with intellectual disabilities to compete in athletic activities that happen 365 days a year in over 180 countries. More than just an environment that promotes athletics, the Special Olympics promotes community. Athletes spend time practicing and competing together and build strong social bonds that last long after the games are over. The athletes learn from each other and from volunteers who help coach and organize the events.

The Special Olympics was founded in 1962 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. “Every person, regardless of whatever different abilities they may have, can contribute, can be a source of joy, and can beam with pride and love.” – Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Athletes range from all ages and are grouped together by intellectual ability rather than age.

Anyone who has had the privilege of being a part of the Special Olympics can attest to the happiness shared by all the athletes, coaches, and fans.

In Beirut, Lebanon, the city halted a civil war so Special Olympics athletes could safely compete on the streets.

This group of Special Olympics athletes doing a lap around a track in Germany shows the feeling of community that is shared by everyone involved

Getting involved with the Special Olympics id easier and less of a huge commitment than a lot of people might think. It will show you a side of your community that most people seldom think about or get the chance to experience. Furthermore, you’ll be surprised by the fact that while you are helping teach the athletes, they will be teaching you life lessons you’ll never forget.

To volunteer with the NC Special Olympics or foe more info, please visit:

Special Olympics North Carolina
2200 Gateway Centre Boulevard, Suite 201
Morrisville, NC 27560

+1 (919) 719-7662
+1 (919) 719-7663 (Fax)