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Moments of intersection

Intersections

living in multitudes

How do multiple ways of being come together for one, living, environment?

The term intersectionality was coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw, using it to recognise the crossovers of many aspects of identity, such as class, race and gender, within one individual. In spatial terms, intersections are the places where distinct paths cross: encountering, negotiating and continuing afresh.

     In today's globalised world, so full of new arrivals and diverse ways of being, why is it that the living environments we create are so dominated by such a mundane, repetitive and inhospitable sprawl?

     From the spatial segregation of othered cultures, to colour-blind assimilation, Western living environments are still designed for the humanised, with little space for those rendered 'less-human'. Non-human species and wildlife are being designed out of our, and their, living environments altogether.
    I argue that neither segregation, nor enforced uniformity can create places to thrive. Instead, I explore our moments of intersection, in celebration of the spaces where multiple beings and lives can pass, encounter, engage.

 

This project takes a site in East Amsterdam, an area seeing increasing numbers of new arrivals seeking study, refuge and a new home to explore the idea of intersectionality in spatial design. Routes, experiences and tenureships intersect to blur the line between ownership/rental, young/old, human/non-human and create space for the more-than-human.

     New community cores and low-rise, high density housing clusters break the divisive segregation of the neighbourhood's existing uniform blocks, animating community squares of shared space and opening wildlife corridors through the urbanised environment.
    Diverse typologies cluster around semi-private collective spaces, balancing collective identity with individual expression. A rich diversity of spatial treatment and a patchwork of materiality creates opportunity for more-than-human life within the city. Intersecting pathways and shared entrances encourage connection, shared experience and value for all.

The individual vs. the collective is a constant negotiation - living together with others, sharing space and resource is far from easy. But by creating space for other species, cultures, ways of living; those crossing paths of encounter, the spaces of negotiation and the lives we share can teach us just how much we miss by designing out the other, instead showing us just how much we share in common.

MSc1 Dwelling Studio, TU Delft

January 2018

KEY CONCEPTS

cross-species co-habitation

global migration

socio-spatial justice

sustainable urban densification

co-housing design

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“if we understand the "animal" as a social construct, we see how it was designed to prop up the ruling class and the "human”
– Aph Ko, 2019

Houses are one of the most universally experienced building types, needing to meet our most basic needs of the right to shelter, privacy and safety; up to the nuanced needs for self-expression, connectedness and aspiration. Yet who and how we design homes for is still built by and for a narrow demograpphic of idealised humanity.

As we become ever more mobile and societies become ever more globalised, welcoming newcomers to our neighbourhoods and cities is becoming increasingly important. Dominant power systems are built into our living environments and racial and class-based segregation still define the majority of residential spaces; blocking opportunities for new arrivals, increasing social segregation and deepening existing oppressions.

     Non-human animals too are segregated, almost entirely designed out of our living environments. Space is reserved for only a very select few species - those chosen to be kept as pets or a few birds and ducks that we like adorning the outskirts. As humans continue to sprawl and urbanise Earth's land-mass, this spatial injustice is building whole species and ecosystems into extinction, instead curating cities and towns as sterile, ordered environments built around the (White, able-bodied, middle-class) human.

My proposal aims to address this power dynamic and instead build inclusive environments, designed to encourage interaction and co-habitation. The importance of intersectionality - the recognition of our individual and intersecting identities moves away from 1990s pushes towards 'assimilation', instead embracing difference and individuality.

     This balancing of the individual and the collective is expressed architecturally. One shared brick base supports a varied texture of materials above. Mixed housing types and tenures bring multiple family structures together, creating opportunities to share, connect and exchange.

     Spaces and houses become homes to more than just the human 'owners', with pockets of space reserved at ground floor for wildlife corridors, within the facade for birds and bats, and in cladding to accommodate insect life.

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A collective base supports individual identities

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Diverse housing types and tenures

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Non-human habitat integration

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Site Section

The masterplan retains a ‘wall’ of the existing fabric, maintaining space for established lives alongide welcoming the newcomers. Residential blocks bound Kattenburg towards the road, opening up new pockets of communal space behind. Spaces are animated through shared childcare, provision for start-ups, playspace and wildlife corridors running throughout.
    Clusters of low rise housing bring diverse typologies together, stacking and intersecting entrance routes, external
spaces and visual access. Each house is entered from a collective space, bringing residents through
a sequence of shared spaces to their front door. Raised terraces at first floor enjoy days in the sun, retaining
plant life, shadows and corners for wildlife at ground floor. Stacked dwellings above create varied living environments to for variety of livelihoods.
     Living and dining facilities face the collective space, whilst private facilities border the exterior. Deep set windows
provide privacy to the outside, whilst large openings create connections to the collective spaces. Changes of level, shared entrances and visual connection provide opportunities for connection andinteraction between residents.

     Housing types draw on diverse cultural practice, allowing for many ways to build household structures. An L-shaped typology draws on non-Western forms of living, creating a shared kitchen and dining room at the heart of the dwelling, with semi-private studios associated.

     The more typical 3B4P dwelling shares an entrance with two 1B2P studio flats to enable privacy and owned space whilst retaining connection to a social circle.

      Natural, tactile materials are used to enable homes for non-human animals. Crawl spaces are designed into half-levels in house types, with corners and openings creating nooks for small mammals. Elements of deep set façade house bird nesting facilities, whilst other sections hold ‘insect
hotels’, designing space for small pollinators.

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Cluster Plan - First Floor

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Communal Dwelling Type - Exploded Axo

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Overview

Diverse typologies cater for diverse needs, breaking down the space into manageable community blocks. The tower faces a public square, which is animated by communal facilities - children playing at nursery, co-working spaces for hire, laundrettes and community cafe.

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Existing Grain

The existing site is planned according to linear blocks of highly regular 2B3P flats accessed off external balconied circulation.

It makes for a repetitive environment, as well as a repetitve demographic, with the tenants falling to balcony embellishment as their way to celebrate individual personality.

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Ground Floor Plan

The level change across the site is used as an opportunity to vertically layer space. The ground floor below terraces is maximised both for parking access and also as space for the passage of other animals.

 

Terraces are punctured to allow light and vegetation to pass through, whilst space is bounded by semi permeable walls, building to serve bodies other than the dominant human form to create affordances for other forms of habitation.

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North Elevation

Orientation, roof angles, cladding and house type are all varied to create individuality, variety and identity for each cluster

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East Elevation

External openings are kept narrow, reflecting the arrangement of public-private in plan

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Communal Living

Timber structures and cladding reduce embodied carbon and support biodiverse habitats, whilst split levels allow residual spaces for non-human affordances.

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Communal Living

A shared staircase wraps the entrance space, giving access to the shared dining/living room and the private entrances of the 1B2P apartments above

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Communal Living

Insect hotels form external cladding, restoring human environments within larger ecosystems. Window boxes project into the facade, providing visual connection to other species.

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Communal Living - House Type 3

Non-Western models of living inspire a more shared dwelling style.

Intersecting split level floors create a diversity of spaces, housing a more traditional 3B4P dwelling alongside two 1B2P studio apartments, suitable for extended family members, co-living or supported housing.

Pockets of space are also created as affordances for wildlife habitation. The sturdier ground floor base allows small mammals to pass or settle, roof spaces allow birds and bats to nest and facades house insect life.

Cross-species sharing is encouraged and reinforced in recognition of our common situating within the larger ecosystem. Window boxes provide visibility between spaces, allowing experience of non-human life beyond commodification.

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a master bedroom for the 3B4P and double room for the apartment sit within a generous pitched roof space at second floor.

affordances for appropriation by other animals sit below the intermediate floor plan.

the courtyard staircase gives access to an apartment at half level, full height windows connecting to the shared dining room below.

a second apartment interlocks at first floor, again accessed from the internal courtyard.

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Insect Hotel Facade, 1:20 detail

Vertical facades used to densify habitat for multiple species, beyond just for human habitation.

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Sustainability Strategy

Sustainability as social justice, environmetal justice, community stability

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Dwelling Intersection, 1:20 detail

Timber framed construction, internally insulated to allow for variety in cladding depths and systems.