The aim of this account is to identify how community may act as an influence on Architectural Designs.
The beginning of the 21st Century has seen the general requirements of residential architectural change significantly, with an ageing population and the housing crisis putting an enormous strain on current housing. The issues with this situation result in a huge impact on the quality of life of the people living in buildings no longer suitable for them; with the elderly especially experiencing social isolation and loneliness when occupying such spaces.
Outside community can be an important aspect of an architect’s design and should be considered when developing a scheme, with the outside community acting as an individual’s first interaction of the space, evoking thoughts and feelings.
Evaluation of a Particular Aspect of History and/ or Theory
Community is a crucial aspect pf architectural design as it provides an understand of the clients need to create the most effective design. What is community? A Community is a set of people residing in a specific area or region and normally linked via a common interest.
A successful community is one that regulates isolation. A community brings people together to advocate and support each other in ways buildings cannot.
There are many different kinds of community’s: Neighbours, Place, Interest, passion, Action and geographic boundaries. Both linking to community intergenerational or Co-Habitation Housing are the two options the design brief focused on.
Integrational is when a family with different generations of ages all live together under the same roof. Whereas Home-shares consist strangers of a variety of all ages living together.
Analysis of Two Consistent Precedents
Courtyards have been embedded in Architectural design for centuries, in both the Western and Eastern world. Used throughout history, from ancient architecture to modern designs, they play a key feature in the creation of community amongst occupants. The Bain Apartments, Toronto provide a key precedent study on the effective use of courtyards. The site is built up of vast amount of three story buildings spanning two large city blocks in East Toronto. The real character of the site though comes from the positioning of the buildings, surrounding nine communal courtyards.
Eden Smith an English- Scandinavian Architect designed The Bain Apartments which were originally known as Riverdale Courts. It was one of the first housing projects in response to an identified housing crisis in Toronto, with the aim of the housing project being to improve the conditions of the working class men in the area by creating a sense of community in what is essentially a densely populated area.
According to Zhang, (2015). “The Communal Courtyards can promote better social interaction and neighbouring communication that will result in more human care for one another”.
Mutual Courtyards inside can offer a stage for network exercises, such an and chatting with neighbours, which are on the whole conductive to the physical and psychological well-being of inhabitants.
In comparison to the back to back houses workers were accustomed to, based around the location of the factories in which they would work and with access from long narrow streets with little or no exterior space, the impact of community led design externally is hugely apparent with this precedent.
The idea of an open floor plan first started to become popular in the post war era.
As people started to have bigger families, the need for a communal space within the home was on the rise. The pros of an open floor plan gave design adaptability – as families aged and grew the space could adapt to their needs, rather than being limited to the confines of more traditional housing designs.
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Moreover, in the 21st century with the economic crash, families found that young adults were living in their family homes much longer than they had previously, with the ability to get onto the property ladder significantly more difficult due to high housing prices, a housing crisis and the general cost of living. These issues meant that homes had to start working for larger families past the point of childhood.
An example of how this is achieved is that when a person is in the kitchen, they are able to communicate with other people in the house easily, creating a sense of connection. In contrast to this, a house of this scale with an enclosed floor plan would potentially isolate individuals, and make fluidity of activities and social interaction between family members strained.
Application to Design
For the current Design Project, the brief involves designing a dwelling based on either Intergenerational or Co-Habitation Housing. The Site is a shared between three other dwellings located in The Timber Yard in Newcastle’s, Ouseburn.
The initial design process divided the site between four dwellings. With inspiration taken from both Western and Eastern Courtyards. The Site Plan aimed to create a private community for occupants, within the confines of the pre-existing Timber Yard Walls. With residential only access inside courtyards, this creates a safe sub- community contrasting from the industrialised area of Ouseburn.
When walking through the Timber Yard Site it is essential that a strong sense of community is identifiable and established. The Analysis of the precedent studies and historical use of courtyards has confirmed that the experience of a strong community contributes a hugely positive impact on the quality of life of the individuals within.
Originally to create the sense of the community the layout of the site plan consisted of a large straight path running across the front and back of the allotted site.
Upon analysis of the The Bain Apartments, it became clear that trying to create connections from one end of the site to the other does not create a sense of community within the site. Organising the Site to create situations where residents would be communicating and socialising on a much more intimate scale was a more logical approach.
Further analysis of community in relation to the social aspects of the table also informed the final site placement decisions. Several areas were strategically placed alongside walkways in the site where residents can socialise when crossing paths with one another and catch up in different areas. Outdoor areas for activities such as Pentanque and Basketball promote physical and mental health of the occupants.
Creating an Open Floor Plan within the dwelling, allows for the occupant to flow throughout building easily– allowing the residents to communicate with each other from any room within the dwelling.
Expanding on the open floor plan, a mezzanine floor for the second level in the dwelling creates beautiful double height spaces and more connection horizontally through the building, with the view from the glass balcony on the mezzanine floor looking down into the main living area.
Conclusions and Reflections
Community is an underrated theoretical subject, with not a vast amount of obvious information linking Community and Architecture directly.
When effectively integrated, the use of community influences within a design can have a captivating effect on the overall experience for the user. Homes are supposed to be lived in by the occupant, and with the ever increasing expense of home ownership, it is essential that these spaces enhance the user experience.
By creating a pleasant environment for the occupant and enhancing the way in which connectivity is achieved within the space, social isolation and loneliness for residents who may live in multi-generational homes can be achieved.
Furthermore, community has been a fascinating subject to research, and should be implemented throughout all architectural areas. The research conducted in this analysis of community throughout this illustrated account has proven to be exceptionally valuable and has helped the design project to evolve into the final outcome of the Timber Yard six person Intergenerational Dwelling. To Conclude, a broader understanding for community has been obtained, allowing this aspect of theory to be used in all other designs.
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