Scholarly article on topic 'Social Participation in Residential Architecture as an Instrument for Transforming Both the Architecture and the People Who Participate in It'

Social Participation in Residential Architecture as an Instrument for Transforming Both the Architecture and the People Who Participate in It Academic research paper on "Social and economic geography"

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{"participatory design" / "residential architecture" / identity / "neighborhood ;"}

Abstract of research paper on Social and economic geography, author of scientific article — Katarzyna Kosk

Abstract This paper is an attempt to draw attention to social needs in the residential architecture and to present the idea of participatory design. The concept of participatory design, that is the one that uses the knowledge of the potential users during various stages of the design process, has been presented in this paper because of the need to illustrate the mutual social interactions and their identification with the architectural surrounding. The author hypothesizes that social participation in the design of residential architecture has a positive impact both on the architecture and on the relations between people who are involved in the creation of such an architecture. On the one hand, the involvement of future users in the design process has a positive effect on the expression of residential architecture, it contributes to the creation of its individual nature. On the other hand, residential architecture that was created as a result of participatory design is a factor that supports the identification of users with the place of residence. This thesis is proved by presenting and comparing three examples of residential architecture designs created as a result of participatory design. The research scope covers contemporary designs created within the territory of Poland, and more specifically in Białystok, Wrocław and Gdynia.

Academic research paper on topic "Social Participation in Residential Architecture as an Instrument for Transforming Both the Architecture and the People Who Participate in It"

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Procedía Engineering 161 (2016) 1468 - 1475

Procedía Engineering

www.elsevier.com/locate/procedia

World Multidisciplinary Civil Engineering-Architecture-Urban Planning Symposium 2016,

WMCAUS 2016

Social Participation in Residential Architecture as an Instrument for Transforming Both the Architecture and The People Who

Participate in It

Katarzyna Koska'*

aWarsaw University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture, Koszykowa 55, 00-659 Warsaw, Poland

Abstract

This paper is an attempt to draw attention to social needs in the residential architecture and to present the idea of participatory design. The concept of participatory design, that is the one that uses the knowledge of the potential users during various stages of the design process, has been presented in this paper because of the need to illustrate the mutual social interactions and their identification with the architectural surrounding. The author hypothesizes that social participation in the design of residential architecture has a positive impact both on the architecture and on the relations between people who are involved in the creation of such an architecture. On the one hand, the involvement of future users in the design process has a positive effect on the expression ofresidential architecture, it contributes to the creation of its individual nature. On the other hand, residential architecture that was created as a result of participatory design is a factor that supports the identification of users with the place of residence. This thesis is proved by presenting and comparing three examples ofresidential architecture designs created as a result of participatory design. The research scope covers contemporary designs created within the territory of Poland, and more specifically in Bialystok, Wroclaw and Gdynia.

©2016 The Authors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of WMCAUS 2016

Keywords: participatory design; residential architecture; identity; neighborhood;

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +48 500 384 005; E-mail address: katarzynakosk@gmail.com

1877-7058 © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of WMCAUS 2016

doi:10.1016/j.proeng.2016.08.612

1. Introduction

The analysis of literature sources, mainly the studies by Ch. Alexander: "A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction" (1977/2008) and J. Gehl: "Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space" (1971/2013) resulted in the identification of nine characteristics of space that affect human attachment to place and that foster social integration and the feeling of identity with a place of residence, thus affecting the development of community-based neighbourly bonds. It was assumed that these characteristics of space will serve as evaluation criteria in the research part of this paper. The conducted analyses demonstrate that two of the three designs in question meet all the evaluation criteria. Therefore, it is expected that these designs have an increased chance to create architecture that is conducive to building neighbourly relationships. The last of the projects in question meets only three evaluation criteria. The reason there are no other features in question is believed to be the improperly conducted participation process, more specifically -the architect's insignificant involvement in the process. This example shows how important the architect's role in the design process is. It is their knowledge and skills that determine the final result of an architectural work. The architect's task is to arrange individual components in a way that makes it possible to perceive new aesthetic links, thereby resulting in a harmonious whole. The analyses also show that the more the design guidelines concerning both the existing context and the needs, user comments, the more interesting the project becomes. If we want to obtain a many-sided architecture, many people must be involved in its creation. Individualism of the architecture is the result of the individual needs of the residents.

This paper is an attempt to draw attention to social needs in the residential architecture and to present the idea of participatory design. The concept of participatory design, that is the one that uses the knowledge of the potential users during various stages of the design process, has been presented in this paper because of the need to illustrate the mutual social interactions and their identification with the architectural surrounding. The author hypothesizes that social participation in the design of residential architecture has a positive impact both on the architecture and on the relations between people who are involved in the creation of such an architecture. On the one hand, the involvement of future users in the design process has a positive effect on the expression of residential architecture, it contributes to the creation of its individual nature. On the other hand, residential architecture that was created as a result of participatory design is a factor that supports the identification of users with the place of residence.

This thesis is proved by presenting and comparing three examples of residential architecture designs created as a result of participatory design. The research scope covers contemporary designs created within the territory of Poland, and more specifically in Bialystok, Wroclaw and Gdynia. Contemporary participatory architecture has been defined as established in the twenty-first century, starting from 2000. 2015 was adopted as the upper time limit of the study area. This date is a natural limit associated with the period of the conducted study.

2. Evaluation criteria

The analysis of literature sources, mainly the studies by Ch. Alexander [1] and J. Gehl [3], resulted in the identification of nine characteristics of space that affect human attachment to place and that foster social integration and the feeling of identity with a place of residence, thus affecting the development of community-based neighbourly bonds. The theories of Ch. Alexander and J. Gehl are based on the observation of buildings, streets and cities as well as the behaviours of people in them. The research of both authors shows that physical and spatial features of the environment that have an impact on human attachment to place result from human traits that are not subject to differentiation - they are evolutional traits. Therefore, it was assumed that the characteristics of space that will serve as evaluation criteria in the research part of this paper should relate to the relations between universal human traits and the characteristics of the locations that have a varied potential to become good spaces to live in due to their physical properties. Ultimately, the evaluation criteria have been defined as follows:

2.1. Group of houses

The size of the urban unit and the associated number of inhabitants determine the nature of neighbourly relations. According to Ch. Alexander, the optimal group size should be between 8 and 12 households (Alexander, 2008, p.204). K. McCamant and Ch. Durrett's views on optimal group size is between 15-30 households, because it is small enough

to know everyone, but large enough to avoid those you don't particularly care for (McCamant, Durrett, 2003, p.157-158). Therefore, it is assumed, that optimal group size is between 8-30 households.

2.2. Common outdoor space

Common spaces between buildings where people can meet and "get in touch with each other" provide opportunities for neighbourly contacts. However, they must be located so that each of the residents is able to freely go through them. Preferably such space should be free from vehicular traffic, and thanks to that there are more opportunities for interaction between residents who move on foot.

2.3. Available green areas

J. Gehl claims that neighbourly relations between the buildings can develop if an opportunity to stay outside is offered in the form of semi-private gardens located in the transition zone between the buildings and an alley (Gehl, 2013, p. 189). Ch. Alexander draws attention to maintaining a proper distance between green areas and buildings, which should not be greater than three minutes of walking distance (Alexander, 2008, p.310).

2.4. Four-storey limit

J. Gehl just like Ch. Alexander also recognises the impact of the height of buildings on the intensity of social contacts. Activity in the vicinity of homes around high buildings becomes extremely limited, which is a result of the distance that must be travelled by the inhabitants, in particular those living on the top floor, to get out of the building (Gehl, 2013, p.185) According to Ch. Alexander, compliance with the four-storey limit is an appropriate means by which a proper relationship between the building height and human health can be maintained (Alexander, 2008, p.118).

2.5. Common areas in the heart of a building

The shape and the location of common areas inside a building are also very important when it comes to shaping the relations between neighbours. According to Ch. Alexander, the passage that is used by people every day should run contiguously to the common spaces and be open to them. Such a location of common spaces is the best possible because, on the one hand, thanks to the location tangent to the main passage, it does not hinder the people passing by and, on the other hand, because it is open, it encourages to stop and see what happens inside (Alexander, 2008, p.628).

2.6. Residential houses between other buildings

An important role in spatial structure of a community-based estate is also played by buildings for other functions, such as shops, schools, services, universities. Various types ofbuildings located among residential buildings provide an additional opportunity for social interaction between neighbours. For example, a simple trip to a shop becomes by the way also an excuse for getting in touch with others. Thanks to that, the physical and psychological needs are satisfied at the same time.

2.7. Differentiation of households

Differentiation of households is another important criterion in the light of the considerations on the social residential architecture. Only an architecture that equally generates spaces for living for people of all ages next to each other can become a trigger to create proper social attitudes. This means that the areas inhabited only by older people, only by young families with children or only by singles should not be established.

2.8. Connecting the interior to the exterior

A proper shape of the layout plan of a residential building also affects social relations. It is important for the individual interiors to be designed so that the events happening in the house can freely pass outside. According to D. Fromm, establishing social contacts promotes the use of soft borders between what is private and what is common, and between what is common and what is public (Fromm, 1991, p. 12-14). This results in an increased chance of visual and verbal contact. For example, a kitchen facing the neighbouring spaces is one example of the application of such soft borders. It is important that the kitchen table top should be located by the window so that it is also possible to look through the window when cooking and see what is happening outside.

2.9. Architectural detail

J. Gehl points out that it is not enough just to create a good space and make it possible for the people to move around in it. There also have to be suitable conditions for moving and staying within the spaces as well as for participating in a wide range of social activities and recreation, (Gehl, 2013, p.195). The details of such areas, including their smallest components, and their quality play an essential role. A bench located at the front door, sheltered from rain and wind and with a good view of the street can become such an important detail. This seemingly modest piece of furniture can become quite an important means of preserving life between buildings.

3. Case studies

Case studies of three Polish housing co-operative designs were performed on the basis of interviews with the people involved in both the management and the creation of these designs. The data were collected in November 2015.

3.1. The analysis of Biatystok Housing Co-operative project

Table 1. The basic data ofthe project.

PROJECT ADRESS: STOLECZNA STREET, BIALYSTOK, POLAND

PROJECT AUTHORS: ARCHITECTURAL OFFICE: METEOR ARCHITECTS; ARCHITECTS: ANNA AND BOGDAN PSZONAK

TIME: projectstart: 2014 purchaseofland: projectcompletion:

in the process ofpurchasing the project is not completion

No. Quality Description: fulfilled criteria

1 Group ofhouses The group ofresidents, which participated in the design process is optimal, consisting ofl3 households. 1

2 Common outdoor space There are many different types ofexterior common spaces: semi-private entrance plaza, common roofterrace with swimming pool. 1

3 Available green areas There are different types ofgreen zones: green rooftop terrace, private green gardens, and trees around the main entry. 1

4 Four-storey limit The building consists of4 levels. 1

5 Common areas in the heart of a building There are different types of interior common spaces: communal space located on the ground floor, laundry room, bicycle storage. 1

6 7 Residential houses between other buildings Differentiation of households On the ground floor ofthe building was designed also one commercial unit with a total area of 115 m2- The project consists of 13 apartments with different surface: 67-115 m2. The system of internal walls was designed according to individual preferences. The project was created for residents ofdifferent ages and ofvarious professions. Among the users are: doctors, builders, architects, economists. 1 1

8 Connecting the interior to the exterior The space was divided into various zone types: public, semi-private and private, which seamlessly permeate with each other. Thanks to mobile window blinds, residents can decide, how much, they want to open their private apartments to the public space. 1

9 Architectural detail Although, the project is in conceptual phase, we can notice on the Fig. 1, 2.: benches, small architecture and active people. It shows, that architects designed this building with particular attention to the human needs. 1

SUMMARY: the number ofreceived evaluation criteria / the number ofevaluation criteria 9/9

3.2. The analysis of Wroclaw Housing Co-operative project Table 3. The basic data ofthe project.

PROJECT ADRESS:

PARCEL NO. 62/9; 62/11, PRECINCT: NOWE ZERNIKI, WROCLAW, POLAND

PROJECT AUTHORS: ARCHITECTURAL OFFICE: CREO; BARTOSZ M. ZMUDA, PIOTR MAREK, BARTOSZ SZCZEPANSKI

project start: 2013

purchase of land: 2014

project completion:

the project is not completion

No Quality Description: fulfilled

criteria

Group ofhouses

2 Common outdoor space

3 Available green areas

4 Four-storey limit

5 Common areas in the heart of a building

6 Residential houses between other buildings

7 Differentiation of households

Connecting the interior to the exterior

Architectural detail

There are two buildings, which belong to the one neighborhood. Each one consists of4 households. These two buildings are the part of larger assumption that consists of 8 residential units.

There are many different types ofexterior common spaces: garden, playground for children, terrace.

From the south side ofthe buildings is planned a common garden. The building consists of 3 levels.

There are different types of interior common spaces: laundry room, bicycle storage, communal space with kitchen and bathroom.

On the ground floor ofthe one ofthe buildings were also designed two commercial units: hairdresser - 55 m2 and kindergarten -110 m2.

The project consists of 8 apartments with different surface: 69,2 m2-100,4 m2. The system of internal walls was designed according to individual preferences. The project was created for residents ofdifferent ages and ofvarious professions.

The space was divided into various zone types: public, semi-private and private, which seamlessly permeate with each other. The common garden and the parking zone are separated by low fences to ensure that garden is safe and fun for everyone, especially for children.

Although, the project is in conceptual phase, we can notice on the Fig. 4.: different playground equipment, small architecture. It shows, that architects designed these buildings with particular attention to the human needs.

SUMMARY:

the number ofreceived evaluation criteria / the number ofevaluation criteria

3.3. The analysis of Pomeranian Housing Co-operative project

Table 5. The basic data ofthe project.

PROJECT ADRESS:

FLAGOWA STREET, PARCEL NO. 634, PRECINCT: WICZLINO, GDYNIA, POLAND

PROJECT AUTHORS:

LEADER OF THE GROUP: ROMAN PACZKOWSKI, ARCHITECT: LUKASZ OCHOCINSKI

project start: 2014

purchase ofland: 2015

project completion: 2015

No Quality Description: fulfilled criteria

1 Group ofhouses The group ofresidents, which participated in the design process is optimal, consisting of 8 households. 1

2 Common outdoor space From the vest side ofthe building is a common green space, but was planned by chance. From the east side ofthe building was planned another common space, which is dominated by parking places 0.5

3 Available green areas From the vest side ofthe buildings are planned private gardens for 4 housing units, which are located on the ground floor, and terraces for 4 housing units, which are located on the 1st floor. There is also a common green space, but it was planned by chance. Only two of 8 housing units are situated close to this common garden. Other housing units have difficult access to this space. 0.5

4 Four-storey limit The building consists of2.5 levels. 1

5 6 7 Common areas in the heart of a building Residential houses between other buildings Differentiation of households There aren't any interior common spaces. The project does not provide any commercial units. The project consists of2types ofhousing units with the area of: 57 m2 and 96 m2. Residents didn't cooperate with the architect during the design process. The project was chosen among typical projects by the residents. The system ofindividual walls in flats was changed during the construction phase ofthe project. The project was created for residents of similar age: 2537. © © ©

8 Connecting the interior to the exterior There aren't any "soft borders" between private and common spaces, and between common and public spaces. On the contrary, these borders are radical in the form of a fence. 0

9 Architectural detail The project does not provide any architectural detail supporting social contacts. 0

SUMMARY: the number ofreceived evaluation criteria / the number ofevaluation criteria 3/9

4. Results and discussions

The conducted analyses demonstrate that two of the three designs in question meet all the evaluation criteria. Therefore, it is expected that these designs have an increased chance to create architecture that is conducive to creating neighbourly relationships. A comparison of the analyses of designs created in Bialystok and Wroclaw also shows that despite the fact that both projects have the same examined characteristics of space defined on the basis of universal human needs, the method of interpretation of these features varies in each of designs. This is a proof that participatory design does not take place everywhere in the same way, according to a rigidly defined pattern. Every place where architecture is created has its individual determinants. Participatory design should define the principles of humanistic approach to design, generic enough to be able to use them every time, but never giving the same design solutions.

The last of the projects in question meets only three evaluation criteria. The reason there are no other features in question is believed to be the improperly conducted participation process, more specifically - the architect's insignificant involvement in the process. This example shows how important the architect's role in the design process is. It is their knowledge and skills that determine the final result of an architectural work. Creating an architecture that corresponds to human needs to the greatest extent currently requires changes in the traditional understanding of the profession of architect. Interdisciplinary approach here seems to be a primary consideration. Architects should cooperate not only with technical collaborators, but also with psychologists and sociologists. They are also obliged to be more and more versatile and to acquire new knowledge and skills that will make it possible for them to become more flexible. Despite fulfilling only three of the nine evaluation criteria, the design originating in Gdynia is also a proof that building social contacts between neighbours can take place through the mere participation in the design and creation of architecture and also by taking joint responsibility for the created space. The author's observations indicate that the relations between neighbours emerging as a result of common construction of a residential building in Gdynia are very friendly.

All residents heartily welcome each other and exchange new observations about the common living space with passion and willingness. Time will tell whether the created architecture will be able to sustain those relations.

5. Conclusions

This paper proves, that creating well-functioning neighbourhoods and communities can take place not only through a properly designed architecture, but also through the mere participation in the design. This occurs because by participating in joint events with other residents, human identifies with both the place and the people who become close to them.

The analyses also show that the more the design guidelines concerning both the existing context and the needs, user comments, the more interesting the project becomes. The architect's task is to arrange individual components in a way that makes it possible to perceive new aesthetic links, thereby resulting in a harmonious whole. If we want to obtain a many-sided architecture, many people must be involved in its creation. Individualism of the architecture is the result of the individual needs of the residents.

References

[1] Ch. Alexander, A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, Gdanskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne, Gdansk, 1977/2008

[2] D. Fromm, Collaborative Communities: Cohousing, Central Living, and Other New Forms ofHousing with Shared Facilities, Van Nostrand

Reinhold, NewYork, 1991

[3] J. Gehl, Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space, RAM, Krakow, 1971/2013.

[4]C.R. Hatch, The scope of Social Architecture, New Jersey Institute of Technology, New York, 1984

[5] K. McCamant, Ch. Durrett, Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves, second edition with Ellen Hertzman, Ten Speed

Press, Berkeley, 2003

[6] H. Sanoff, Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2000