Empathy and trust have been systematically reduced by the environments in which we live and work. Therefore, to create meaningful places, we must remember to prioritize reciprocity over authority.
To be empathetic means to understand the experience of the user inwardly in an emotional sense and to develop a mechanism through this understanding that translates to the physical realm. Buildings, especially our homes are a significant part of our lives. Therefore, based on the theory of situationism, changes in human behavior is a result of the situation we find ourselves in, thus, our built environment in turn affects us. As designers we ask, how do we create spaces that are physical manifestations of people’s needs? Most importantly, how do we listen?
Our design parameters are foundations of a place that encourages interaction through connective spaces, promotes healthy living through programs within walking distance, and is inclusive and diverse built on quality design and sustainability. Located in Southview, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the community is known for its aging population, low median income rate when compared to Calgary and a high population of neglected migrants. Our project focuses on diversity and intergenerational interaction. The massing was driven by connections and while this created an aggregation, the elevated path connected the blocks while eliminating the dichotomy between public and private. The programming not only responds to people’s needs but also provides opportunities for growth. Occupants produce their food and are served to the community through a market, while waste is recycled assisting in the production of a circular economy. Supplementary to this, programs such as social spaces, school and library were included to act as anchors that create a sense of ownership. Unit type mixing encourages interaction between people of different ages and backgrounds, leading to a healthier social life for occupants. The unit design allows its dwellers to unapologetically occupy the space made possible by dividing the units into three parts; work, play and sleep. The third space varies from one unit to another providing flexibility that adapts to the occupants needs.
A city for all looks like a space that carries a narrative from everyone. A place that brings fragmented narratives, spaces, and demographics together to help shape a more inclusive urban identity. A city for all is a space in which everyone has the privilege of unapologetically occupying the space and living in it together.