Perspective section through housing cluster


places of diversity

How do multiple identities come together in one, living environment?

The theory of intersectionality was coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw and recognises the crossovers between various aspects of identity in one individual, such as class, race, gender.

     In a globalised environment, increasing movement and new arrivals bring together varied cultures and experiences. Yet, rather than welcoming and sharing this diversity, places are still segregated, concentrating wealth, Whiteness, opportunity and 'othering' any identities that deviate. Non-human species and wildlife are increasingly designed out of our living environments and eco-systems altogether.
     I argue that neither segregation, nor enforced uniformity can create shared places to thrive. My proposal instead comes from a point of acknowledging and celebrating our differences. It explores our moments of intersection, allowing space for each of our individual identities to find a home within the collective as a whole.


This project takes a site in East Amsterdam, an area seeing increasing numbers of new arrivals seeking study, refuge, safety and a new home and explores the idea of intersectionality via spatial design. Routes, experiences and tenureships intersect to blur the line between ownership/rental, young/old, human/non-human and celebrate difference to create animated and supportive living environments.

     Kattenburg's existing expression through the appropriation of balcony space, entrances and front gardens is fostered and built upon. New community cores and low-rise, high density housing clusters break the divisive segregation of the existing block typologies, animating community squares and opening wildlife corridors through the neighbourhood.

Diverse typologies cluster around semi-private collective spaces, balancing collective identity with individual expression. A rich diversity of spatial treatment creates opportunity for non-human life within the city. Intersecting pathways and shared entrances encourage connection, shared experience and value for all. An invitation for a greater connection, understanding and respect.

MSc1 Dwelling Studio, TU Delft

January 2018


cross-species co-habitation

global migration

socio-spatial justice

sustainable urban densification

co-housing design

“We need to understand how social problems impact all the members of a targeted group… many of our social justice problems, like racism and sexism, intersect, creating multiple levels of social injustice”

– Kimberlé Crenshaw, 1989

Houses are one of the most common and universally experienced building types, needing to meet the most basic needs right to shelter, privacy and safety; up to the need for self-expression, connectedness to others and aspiration. Yet who and how we design for is still ...

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 can keep to the outskirts. As humans continue to sprawl and urbanise Earth's land-mass, this extreme imbalance in spatial justice 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.

     The balance between the individual and the collective is reflected through the architecture - one unified brick base supporting a varied and individualised material palette 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 designed to encourage insect life.

A collective base supports individual identities

Diverse housing types and tenures

Diverse housing types and tenures

Non-human habitat integration

Site Section

Cluster Plan - First Floor

The masterplan recognises the value in the existing fabric, retaining a ‘wall’ of the original residential blocks towards the road. Behind this protective exterior, new pockets of communal space open up the core of the neighbourhood, animating shared spaces through shared childcare, spaces for start-ups and landscapes of 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 the internal collective space, bringing the residents through
a sequence of shared spaces to their front door. First floor terraces create collective spaces in the sun, retaining
wildlife routes and habitat at ground floor. Stacked dwellings allow varied living environments for differing cultures,
income levels. Changes of level, shared entrances and visual connection provide opportunities for connection and
interaction between residents.
     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.

     Housing types draw on diverse cultural practice, allowing for extended or atypical living groups. An L-shaped typology draws on non-Western forms of living, creating a shared kitchen and dining room at the heart of the dwelling. The more typical three storey 3B4P dwelling shares an entrance and collective spaces with two 1B2P apartments/studio flats. This caters for a degree of privacy whilst retaining connection to a social circle, suitable for young adults, students or elderly supported living.

      Natural, tactile materials are used to encourage a habitat for other animals. Where half levels are used, crawl spaces are designed with corners and openings to create routes and habitats for small mammals. Elements of deep set façade house bird nesting facilities, whilst other sections hold ‘insect
hotels’ connected to the park, providing habitats for pollinators.

Communal Dwelling Type - Exploded Axo

Ground Floor Plan.jpg
North Elevation.jpg
East Elevation.jpg
Main Model Photo.jpg
Model Close.jpg
Model Rear Elevation.jpg
Type 3 Axo.jpg
Type 3 Dwelling.jpg
Bug Hotel.jpg
Sustainability Diagram.jpg
1 to 20 plan.jpg

Further Thoughts:

- Written thesis - on the processes and impacts of animal-based food systems

- Graduation project - on decommodifying and re-framing human-animal binary relationships

- Veganism as a social justice issue: thinking beyond the diet

- Individual vs. Collective: embodiment, relationality and interconnection

- 'Nature' vs 'Human': towards a re-embedded humanity

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