Collaborative Practice - Home Re_Considered

Home Re_Considered : Home Re_Defined

John E. Folan, Carnegie Mellon University  & Urban Design Build Studio


The HOME RE_CONSIDERED : HOME RE_DEFINED studio sequence offered over the course of a single year focused on housing design and housing implementation strategies that can be employed at scale to deconcentrate poverty. Collaborating with community residents, a non-profit 510c3 Community Development Organization (CDO), a material repurposing center, and job-skill training organization, the vertically-integrated interdisciplinary studio investigated mechanisms for increasing public knowledge about regionally-specific housing-related issues and developing scenarios for mixed-income development. The objective for the studio was to design a viable single-family infill housing
prototype (RE_CON 01) and development strategies for site utilization that can promote inclusive, mixed-income development in urbanized areas where gentrification threatens displacement of low-income residents.

The vertically-integrated studio included 3 Fourth Year BArch students, 3 Fifth Year BArch students, 8 MArch II students, 4 Architecture Engineering Construction Management (AECM) students, and 15 students in a collaborating Reality Computing course.

The studio framework/pedagogy involved four learning modules: 1) CONTEXT; 2) DEFINITION; 3) ARTICULATION; and 4) REFINEMENT. Rather than a linear sequence, the modules were re-visited recursively with the goal of developing student understanding from
broad to focused/specific.

The first quarter of the fall studio was dedicated to understanding quantitative and qualitative aspects of CONTEXT. The studio investigated physical and socio-economic landscapes at national, regional, and local scales. Local contextual understanding focused on the areas surrounding three dispersed vacant residential parcels owned by the partnering non-profit CDO to be utilized for implementation of the RE_CON 01 prototype. Traditional research methods included narrative texts, network analyses, GIS data sets, montage, mappings, and interviews with residents. Emergent Reality Computing methods including terrestrial LIDAR
scanning and photogrammetry were utilized to capture physical characteristics of the local built environment.

Once a CONTEXT for work was established, the group shifted focus to DEFINITION of parameters that inform the development of a housing prototype that could address concepts of universal affordability as a mechanism for deconcentrating poverty, and eliminating displacement associated with gentrification. Strategies developed were required to leverage market-rate development to stabilize long-term, fixed-income residents, and provideopportunity for generational wealth building.

The ARTICULATION module focused on refinement of work across all domains. While MArch and BArch students advanced the spatial, formal, aesthetic, material, and tectonic characteristics of the housing prototype, AECM students worked to advance metric-based project parameters in the context of construction/implementation performance. Reality Computing students were responsible for advancing design-process-oriented virtual experiences developed to date into publicly-accessible tools for decision-making.

During REFINEMENT, the final module, design proposals for the RE_CON 01 housing prototype were advanced through external review, guided by conclusions made during ASSESSMENT and aspiring to enhance conceptual integrity and authenticity of proposals.

The outcome of year-long studio sequence is a collaboratively-developed plan for scatter site, multi-unit single family housing that will be implemented by a university design-build studio in conjunction with private partners and affiliated non-profit organizations. Development Planning has advanced to CDO Real Estate Investment Board for Implementation Financing to realize development of three homes in 2019.