In my 3rd year of school, we were given an infill project located right outside the French Quarter in the Faubourg Marigny district of New Orleans. The site, which is currently an empty lot, is situated inside of a historic district and sits right next to the 174 year old Marigny Opera House. On this site we were asked create transitional housing for the city's homeless population. Our goal was to house 20 individuals and provide community amenities to help them overcome their predicament. In conjunction with this, we were also asked to provide an event space and kitchen space to the opera house.
Care for Context
Since this was located in a historic district I really wanted to make sure that it respected it's surroundings in terms of both massing and style. Importantantly, I wanted to ensure that whatever I designed was not in visual competition with the opera house as I wanted to give this structure proper reverence. This meant that I had to keep my program limited to two or three stories as well as give the church some visual breathing room. For this, I also attempt for the first time coming up with a design scheme which both feels appropriate in a historic context as well as appear as an undoubtedly modern building.
Arrangement of Spaces
Part of the challenge of this project was finding a way to fit all these programing requirements on to one site. Something else that was particularly challenging was figuring out how to balance coinciding private and public spaces. To solve this issue, I created a courtyard which can be used for events, but exists as a more traditional private courtyard otherwise. This area connects to both the opera house and indoor event space. It also connects to a semi-walled walkway which separates the more public area from the deeply privet living spaces. This simple gesture is crucial for creating a safe transition between these two competing uses without the two feelin hostile to each other. This walkway is also large enough for outdoor furniture. I like to imagine residents drinking their morning coffee here and socializing with their neighbors.
Inspiration in Tiny Living
The apartment design of the St. Ferdinand House was inspired by the small, but clever and cozy tiny home trend. Since this will be a space for people who are coming from having no home or living on the streets, I wanted to be sure that the place they moved into during this transitional period was highly considered and felt both safe and cozy. Taking inspiration form local vernacular, the shotgun house, I laid out these small apartments in a linear fashion providing one continuous isle form front to back which can take advantage of passive cooling. Furthermore, taking cues from tiny home design I created objects like chairs, desks, closets, and sinks which can be folded away when not in use transforming the space for different needs. The sleeping nook and roll-out-closet are heavily designed to maximize usability in this humble space. Per our given requirements kitchens and bathroom are communal and exist separate from the housing units.
Virtual Reality
By modeling in detail this entire space, I was able to utilize VR and truly put the concept to the test. Being able to physically walk through the design and mimic how the user would interact with it allowed me to be more diligent about it's 3D layout as well as confirm that while traditionally small, the space does not feel cramped or crowded.
3D modeling
I was also exited on this project to really push my modeling skills. While in my previous work I would do most of the rendering in post using Photoshop or other tools, in this project I challenged my self to learn texture mapping and in-program rendering. Aside from letting me utilize VR to explore and improve my spaces, this allowed my to easily produce many stunning renderings relatively quickly.
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