Apalachicola Community and Family Develpment Project

LaVerne Wells-Bowie, FAMU
Author Profile
Initial Publication Date: October 27, 2017

Summary

Residents and leaders of the Hill Neighborhood have expressed their ideas for what kind of facilities will promote economic sustenance, bring those who left back and encourage young people to stay. As well, many are vying for the healthy community days of yesteryear to return, yet all are aware of the accelerated rate of gentrification and the reality of engaging new residents as users in any development plan going forward.
To a significant extent student designers will have the ability, as well as appropriateness responsibilities, to shape the program of uses for this Community Participatory Project in Apalachicola. Course readings from Designing Sustainability by Stuart Walker and Design for Ecological Democracy by Randolph Hester) serve as the theoretic basis for approaching cultural, economic and environmental sustainability.

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Learning Goals

Graduate and 5th-year Architecture Students

Design project responsibilities for development of a Neighborhood Retail and Civic Hub require:
- "Community Participatory" conversations with stakeholders
- analyses of ecological and built environment, cultural specific values and practices, social justice, local economic means, appropriate tourism
- transfer of technology
- ethnographically and ecologically democratic sustainable design practices and
- multi-disciplinary teamwork with students from an architecture theory course.

Context for Use

Graduate and 5th-year Architecture Students

Design project responsibilities for development of a Neighborhood Retail and Civic Hub require:
- "Community Participatory" conversations with stakeholders
- analyses of ecological and built environment, cultural specific values and practices, social justice, local economic means, appropriate tourism
- transfer of technology
- ethnographically and ecologically democratic sustainable design practices and
- multi-disciplinary teamwork with students from an architecture theory course.

Description and Teaching Materials

Architectural Design Challenge Statement

To call upon an African American spatial aesthetic is to understand an embodiment of all our senses. The associations we hold in our memory of place include movement, rhythm and cadence.

To envision the Apalachicola Hill houses as a site for critical intervention and inquiry is to similarly occupy a place for these shotguns beyond where they are particularly situated. This archetype is not fixed. Its extended territories, though geographically circumscribed throughout the Black Atlantic, are particular transcendental, spirit-embodying, amalgamations. They are alloy containers with a patina voices that carry intangible cultural exchanges. Variations on the shotgun and its connections to a specific cultural lifestyle exist from place to place, but the essence- a rather ephemeral characterization- is ever present. The evocation of memory plays an important role.

- Is memory a necessary informant for reiteration- commemoration and perception of significance?
- How can design play a role in cultural conservation?

- How can architectural statements speak to the host community from which their work stems- either vicariously or purposely plotted?

- How can the roles and the place of environmental sustainability inform design and reveal its importance through spatial experiences that heighten awareness of cultural aesthetics and architectural significance?

Experiential sensibilities are likened to the difficulties of valuating the intangible world that we know yet seek to name and clearly mark. The designer's insight to see and recall not only what is intellectually learnt, but to also simultaneously call upon lived memory, environmental justice and technological innovation creates a truly magical reality.

Reference:
LaVerne Wells-Bowie, "Above, Beneath, Beyond and Between", Row: trajectories through the shotgun house, David Brown and Wiliam Williams, ed., Rice University School of Architecture, Houston, 2004

Hill Project Study Maps (Acrobat (PDF) 1.4MB Oct27 17)

Apalachicola Vernacular Architecture (Acrobat (PDF) 268kB Oct27 17)

Apalachicola Historic District (Acrobat (PDF) 979kB Oct27 17)

Apalachicola Sketches (Acrobat (PDF) 1.9MB Oct27 17)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Assessment

The final design proposals are presented to the host community and a team of professional practitioners and faculty. This is called a "crit". Assesors advise students on the strengths and challenges of students' works. The jurors' critique commentary is intended to assess student response to the design program.

References and Resources