After weeks of work, the C.H.O.I.C.E. House Emergency Shelter team finally got the chance to meet with the Executive Director of C.H.O.I.C.E., Emefa Butler! The team got to show her what we have been working on and further discuss Emefa’s vision and details of the project scope. Initially, we were asked to design and build two units and a shared washer and dryer space. However, through many design iterations, we found that aggregating the units into one larger volume is a more efficient way to reach the goals of the project. For example, the “dead space” in between the individual units would most likely be unoccupiable and cause maintenance issues. Aggregation offers a hierarchy of outdoor spaces with a private porch and a shared porch to give C.H.O.I.C.E.’s clients the opportunity to socialize, but not force interaction. After presenting our findings to the client, she was fully on board with aggregating the units for the financial and social benefits.
As we move forward with aggregation, we are still wrestling with the question of what a dignified dwelling is and how we can instill dignity into small spaces. To understand how the idea of dignity would manifest itself into architecture, we drew vignettes of what the ideal condition could be for each space. From this, we learned that instilling dignity isn’t necessarily done with big moves like many windows or a dramatic form. It can be as simple as having enough space to put a toothbrush or a designated place to hang up clothes.
Along with these vignettes that we developed in studio, we had the pleasure of working with Amanda Loper of David Baker Architects in Birmingham, AL, to develop these dignified goals into our design of the individual unit.
The current iteration is built around a “core” that consolidate all plumbing, storage, and a third sleeping space to the center of the plan. This allows for more open spaces on either end, while also acting as a privacy buffer between the sleeping and living spaces.
Thanks for tuning into the continuing story of the emergency shelters… or should we say dignified dwellings?