Deployable Communities - Design Charrette

Presented by AIA Houston Associate Network Committee

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October 11, 2019 - October 12, 2019

Brought to you by the Associate Network

Understanding  the  value  of  internodal  relationships  within  the fabric of our cities helps us plan for more vibrant, safe, and healthy environments.  Also  critical  is  to  understand  the  socio-economic impact  that  comes  along  with  development,  as  most  of  our  cities are  experiencing  high  levels  of  growth.  While  this  may  be  marked improvement  for  some,  others  may  be  experiencing  displacement and,  more  specifi cally,  homelessness.  It  is  understood  that  several social factors contribute to this; however, it is undeniable that there is a role that can be played by design. We can accept this as an urban crisis and begin contribution and remediation through a perceptive design  approach.  AISC  and  AIA  Houston  Associate  Network  are introducing the Deployable Communities Design Charrette that will facilitate solutions generated through Houston’s design community.


Nucleus. The center of everything. As humans, we are social beings and  communal  in  nature.  Drawing  inferences  from  the  floating communities  of  the  Amazon  River,  which  is  only  one  of  many floating  communities  throughout  the  world,  one  can  appreciate the human desire to join forces, build a nucleus, and help contend with  otherwise  challenging  environments.  The  center  of  the nucleus fosters a safety net through the allowance of cooperation, interaction, and communal awareness. In our design approach, we are able to take this organic way of dealing with adversity and further define  it  in  a  methodical  blueprint  for  ready-made  communities that may be responsibly deployed to core areas of our cities where our homeless populations exist.


Working with local leadership, religious groups, and government authorities having jurisdiction is critical to the success of deployable communities. The design charrette presents the challenge of how best to derive modular and mobile communities, as well as developing corresponding support programs to be entirely contained within these deployable communities. Working with the  stakeholders  described  above  to  develop  the  programs  may  result  in better  outcomes.  The  communities  should  include  basic  support  facilities such  as  restrooms  and  sleeping  quarters  necessary  to  accommodate  large groups of people and remain deployed in their identifi ed locations for long durations. Participating design teams are challenge to develop an appropriate program from information that is collected through the charrette process and tell the story of how their designs would be implemented in the real world.


The  deployable  communities  are  intended  to travel  from  one  location  to  another  on  an  as- need basis and after one community graduates. Steel  structures  are  seen  as  robust,  viable,  and as a resilient option for this, further propelled by the modular and transportable nature it affords. Emphasis can also be given to how this material may react to, or work with, external forces, such as fl ooding or contending with catastrophic events through the exploration of hybrid compositions. The  mobile  nature  of  these  communities  is intended to have a net-positive effect in regards to the cost-to-impact ratio give the potential for broad reach and re-usability.


The  idea  is  that  the  required  resources,  such  as  policing,  education,  and healthcare, will replace the pseudo-permanent encampments that lack basic support  services  and  thus  contribute  to  crime,  sanitation,  and  health  issues. The  in-place  communities  will  foster  “pride  of  being”  and  relationship- building with the residents to the point of appreciative improvement allowing opportunities that create a pathway to work-home economic independence. The communal presence will also help identify those in need of more focused mental health services. In  turn,  local  government  will  divert  resources  that  are  otherwise  associated with cleaning, responding to crime incidents, and mitigating health concerns attributed to a lack of basic services in homeless encampments.