Designing with context in mind.
By Dante’ A. Clemons
Recently, I read a blog post on Fast Co Design about Valerie Casey’s participation in rebuilding the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans. Casey, the founder of the Designer’s Accord, was working in New Orleans on behalf of the USGBC’s Natural Talent Design Competition. The competition asked entrants to design an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, LEED certified home for under $100,000 that integrates well into the architectural style of the neighborhood. The designs of the four finalists will be built on site. Once the homes are built, their performance will be monitored for one year, with the design team of the best performing home receiving the grand prize in 2011.
There is a sensitivity with which this design competition was structured. Multiple organizations have contributed to rebuilding New Orleans, but the most effective ones have similar approaches.
- Begin where the community is invested. The residents of Broadmoor began their own grassroots efforts to rebuild soon after Hurricane Katrina.
- Design with the future in mind, and with respect for the past. Older building typologies offer a historic reference, oftentimes distinct to each neighborhood. Older building typologies can also offer many insights for enduring construction methods.
- Take the time to engage the community, receive feedback and produce more design iterations. Community members were “walked through” each design, invited to contribute their opinions and vote on which design schemes they preferred.
- Seek to understand the informal behavior of a neighborhood before designing solutions. The best solutions do not disrupt, but rather add to the pre-existing social, economic and architectural fabric of the neighborhood.
For additional information, visit the Broadmoor Improvement Association’s website.