April 8, 2022
Future100: These Students Channel Personal Narrative into Supportive Housing
Meanwhile, their use of color and organic forms (in psycho-geographic collages and a community housing concept for migrant workers in western Massachusetts) brings a seductive beauty. Sanctuary Living shields undocumented workers from capture by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency by sheltering them in quasi-religious sanctuaries that resemble personalized SANAA housing pods. Being encouraged by professor Pari Riahi to move away from the rectilinear was a moment of epiphany for Quinteros that propelled them into a search for form and meaning through native sources of knowledge.
“I was like, ‘Oh hell yeah, I can do that,’ ” Quinteros says. “Because my existence, as the existence of every other migrant in this country, means that we can change the form and the shape of everything around us. I’m from Peru. We have the Andes, and we’ve made all of these different steppes. There’s no reason this needs to be a cube.”
Materials, landscape, and systems thinking animate the design arguments of Elina Chen’s portfolio. For Mycelium as Connective Building Tissue, Chen addresses agricultural waste, worker housing, and industrial production of nontoxic insulation through her concept for a factory that makes insulating panels, sustainably houses workers, and protects the ecology of the El Paso–Ciudad Juárez valley.
The portfolio of Peik Shelton moves dramatically from incredibly nimble but somewhat mechanistic black-and-white drawings to photo-realistic color renderings. His adaptation of a socialist housing block for the 1980 Moscow Olympics into Intergenerational House makes some clever spatial gestures, carving out a central courtyard to encourage greater community and reorienting the apartment terraces in multiple directions to generate more dynamic views and experience.
Noah Lemus’s portfolio shows an aptitude for spatial thinking and the adaptation of leftover urban voids to create infill housing. In the case of Laneway Housing, Lemus and fellow student Kimberly Carlisle inserted a multifamily structure within a block of single-family homes and behind a commercial strip in Toronto. An extensive double-skin facade and other strategies insulate and power the building and conserve energy, while a complex program serves multiple generations and user groups.
Student work sometimes falls into a trap portrayed by a widely circulating meme that says something like “Society has collapsed and nothing is functioning anymore, but the typical studio assignment is still ‘design a mixed-use multifamily housing development.’ ” Brook Boughton’s portfolio investigates Sardinian terrain, industrial ruins, and the division between public and private in high-rise housing in Vallée Verticale, layering his drawings with overlapping uses and an interplay between human and natural environments. But one senses the limits of the assignment here: In the absence of larger policy measures, what is the meaning of another mixed-use multifamily project in Downtown Brooklyn?
Several of the portfolios include visual artwork begun before the students entered the university and continuing afterward. It indicates a desire to maintain connections to the qualities of personal expression, craft, and materiality that first drew them into architecture. This may be a hopeful and healthy impulse, given the rigors of coding requirements, office culture, and client service that can put a damper on the artist inside, and we hope it will be sustained as they make their way into the profession.
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