Community architecture is a practice that contributes to creating awareness in society, involving the users in its design process, and making them differentiate between their needs and aspirations. This process gives the users the authority to claim their environment around them, as they play a vital role in designing. Community architecture is vast in scale, as it involves small as well as large scale projects, such as offices, housing, community dedicated buildings, with the involvement of children, government officials, community residing, etc.

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Co-designing with users- Building community architecture with the community- Sheet1
Participatory students building project ⓒarchdaily.com

Atelier U20 designed a project “Building Together-Learning together” along with architecture students from TU Kaiserslautern and 25 refugees. As the site was desolate, it was necessary to provide bare essentials and common gathering spaces. As these refugees didn’t have a limitation on their stay period, it was important to create a sense of association with the place. So the students decided to stay with them, map their routines, prepare the design, construction drawings, required documents, cost calculations along with refugees. The material used in construction is untreated wood, which was prefabricated and assembled on the site. A team of students and refugees along with the assistance of the military prepared prefabricated panels at their base and assembled them on the site. This process helped in reducing the cost by avoiding the use of machinery and letting the refugees build their community center.

Co-designing with users- Building community architecture with the community- Sheet2
Designers and Executors ⓒarchdaily.com
Co-designing with users- Building community architecture with the community- Sheet3
Good job center ⓒarchdaily.com

‘Good Job!’ A community designed by Onishimaki + Hyakudayuki Architects in Japan aimed at collaborating art, design, and business along with differently-abled, giving them opportunities to live as a normal human being. The workspaces were designed to accommodate the disabled to work, use the space, and be involved in their way. Here the perspective of differently-abled played an important role, as they have a slightly different requirement of space, the main task for the architect was to find a balance between them and design for the diversity.

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Co-designing with users- Building community architecture with the community- Sheet4
Good job center ⓒarchdaily.com
Co-designing with users- Building community architecture with the community- Sheet5
New village care residence ⓒarchdaily.com

New Village Care Residence by DoepelStrijkers in the Netherlands is a rehabilitation center for physiological wellness, a temporary residential facility is an example of community architecture designed keeping in mind the positivity, brightness, playfulness required in healing the users. One of the principal methods adopted for the treatment of the patients is social interaction and group discussions. The architects were extremely sensitive towards the project, patients suffering from NAH, a brain disorder, find difficulty in orientation, which makes it difficult to find their home within the building. Haptic memory helps the patients to identify their homes. To accommodate them, each floor was designed with seven to eight rooms. With a communal terrace for group discussions, even the corridor spaces provide spacious and well-lit, so each resident gets a personal space at the entrance and can decorate it such that a sense of belonging is formed, which helps them recognize their unit.

Co-designing with users- Building community architecture with the community- Sheet6
Stepped terraces ⓒarchdaily.com
Co-designing with users- Building community architecture with the community- Sheet7
Taga town community learning center ⓒarchdaily.com

Taga Town Community Learning Centre by Onishimaki + Hyakudayuki Architects in Japan is a community center designed in association with Taga citizens. It was designed bearing the interactive activities of the users in mind. These users become a part of monthly meetings held by the architects mainly called “Let’s talk about Taga meetings”, conducted for three and a half years, designing the community center. Slowly these meetings turned into workshops, gatherings, events, creating a bond between the users and the designers. This helped the users to understand the living standard, culture, strength of participants, and then design the spaces keeping in mind the number of people. These meetings not only involved Taga residents but also government officials, employees of museums, librarians, etc voluntarily participated in the development of the design.

Co-designing with users- Sheet8
Taga town community learning center ⓒarchdaily.com

The architects organized events, workshops, meetings, like the Food festival was organized to celebrate the cuisine of Taga Culture. A workshop was conducted to prefabricate and modulate furnishings for the differently-able. Later converted into a new project called Horseshoe Shoot Workshop in which excessive help gained from the locals in selecting and acquiring the locally available materials and also learning their usage and application. 

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Although the design process was time-consuming and long, the inputs were visible on the day of the inauguration, local women together prepared and served food and started a cafeteria, children were told stories, motivational speeches were delivered, photo exhibition and display of furniture from the workshops were conducted by the locals. This project was one of the most successful community-based designed projects with excellent involvement of the local community, which resulted in the usage of the community center, a sense of belonging, ownership of every individual who played even the smallest role in executing this project.  

Author

She is an architecture student , a dog lover , a travel enthusiast and a trekker. She is enthusiastic about writing and architecture so mixing both through architecture journalism. She has worked both in commercial architectural firms as well as a sustainable architecture firm and is juggling to find a balance between both.

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