*NJIT HCAD students recently received two accolades: the Design for Social Impact Award and the Built Environment Award at the Core 77 Design Awards for their “Place of Dwelling” (POD) project. Learn more about their design-build project below.
The following press release is from a December 13, 2021 school news announcement.
The development of the POD demonstrates the foresight of Tom Wisniewski, managing partner of Newark Venture Partners. His financial support for this prototype shelter allowed it to go from a design on paper to a fully realized housing unit. Inspired by the city’s efforts in building Hope Village, Wisniewski wanted to do even better and was confident in the abilities Pellegrino and Firestone would bring to the project. The studio’s challenge, as laid out in the course syllabus, was to design a unit that could be built quickly, inexpensively, and meet the needs of people looking for accommodation. “They exceeded all expectations. It’s an amazing home…for everyone. It meets affordable housing needs, but its exceptional design also appeals to the general population. I see a huge social impact and the investment potential needed to make this a sustainable business,” Wisniewski said.
Pellegrino attributes the success of the project to several factors: “It can only happen in a city like Newark, where you have the flexibility, the initiative and the enthusiasm to do something like this, and the fact that we can Doing so at NJIT is also the opportunity for the solution, in the face of a national housing crisis and a global pandemic, where many people do not have the option to “shelter in place.” These students are so passionate about the project that they really delivered the work of four studios into one because they see the power and the potential in it.
Guest reviewers who came to the studio presentation and toured the unit agreed on its potential. Newark City Planning Director Christopher Watson saw the potential for training people in building skills in the process of building these units. Christine Liaukus, Program Manager for Housing and Community Development at the NJIT Center for Building Knowledge, an expert in sustainable architecture, said: “The POD’s proportions are ideal for building to the Passive House standard, which includes a design package principles for extremely energy efficient and comfortable buildings. The POD’s surface-to-volume ratio is low, meaning the amount of outer shell to inner volume is optimized, so heat loss/gain is minimized.
The students were very enthusiastic about both the purpose of the project and what they were learning. To truly understand the needs they were designing a solution for, the students got input from the residents and architect of Hope Village as well as Sakinah Hoyte, the town’s homelessness czar. She provided the students with the demographic profiles of the members of the Newark community for whom they are designing. “We have three extremely vulnerable groups who need housing: people with disabilities and other health conditions, people who have come together for street safety and need to be housed together, and those who need from a domestic violence shelter who often have children with them.”
In their final presentation, the students shared their mandate to produce a low-cost, deployable housing unit, their research on the homeless population in New Jersey, and their design process and construction methods. They also touched on how they designed the POD to accommodate each demographic, custom furnishings, and the flexibility of furniture systems to rearrange based on occupant needs. They also produced a set of construction documents, documented the costs (just over 10,000, including furniture) and counted what they could tackle in the allotted time and budget, noting what could be improved for the next prototype.
Throughout our investigation, the cause, the ‘why’ was very personal to me,” Leidy Lopez said. “I’m from Colombia. I had relatives who were living on the streets, so I saw firsthand what it’s like to be homeless and their needs. Visiting Hope Village also opened our perspectives to this. The fact that we went through this transition to care about “why” we’re building it, rather than the build itself, was important. »
“Through this studio, we challenged student assumptions about what it means to be an architect. We believe that as a profession we have a responsibility to address issues such as the housing crisis, the climate crisis and the vast inequalities in our society. We also believe that the design-build experience is invaluable to any aspiring architect, whether they decide to continue building physically or not. You start thinking very differently about the materials you choose and how the building fits together once you’re faced with the challenge of physically executing your design,” Firestone said.
See a gallery of the studio here.