PRESS RELEASE: Closing Reception & Design Charrette: Argyle Village

Saturday, December 17, 2016 - 11:00 am to 2:00 pm

Parking lot at Pacific Northwest College of Art

511 NW Broadway, Portland, OR 97209

Portland’s design community, the media, and the general public are invited to an outdoor reception and design charrette in the parking lot of the Pacific Northwest College of Art this Saturday, from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm. This event is both a celebration of the successful completion of 14 “sleeping pods” supported by the City of Portland, and the launch of the planning process for “Argyle Village,” a new village community proposed for the Kenton neighborhood that will employ all 14 pods.

This will be the only chance to tour all 14 pods and speak with the designers and houseless people who collaborated to design them. It will also mark the beginning of the site development process for “Argyle Village,” a proposed village community for the Kenton neighborhood.

The pods were designed and constructed by volunteers from PSU’s Center for Public Interest Design, City Repair, the ReBuilding Center, Open Architecture, and the following firms: SERA Architects, Holst Architecture, Mackenzie, SRG Partnership / Howard S. Wright, William Wilson Architects, Scott Edwards Architecture, LRS Architects, Communitecture, MoMaMa, Mods PDX + Shelter Wise, and Architects Without Borders-OR.

Invitees to the reception include the residents of Dignity Village, Right2DreamToo, and Hazelnut Grove, students and faculty from PNCA, PSU's School of Architecture, supporters of the Village Coalition, Portland’s design community, and the general public.  

The Partners On Dwelling Initiative is sponsored by the Village Coalition, a coalition of urban villages and their allies in and around Portland, including Dignity Village, R2D2, and Hazelnut Grove.

For more information, visit:
http://www.cityrepair.org/village-coalition/

Watch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Htqj226vu0s)

 

Village Coalition: An uplifting opportunity

Article by Michelle Hess, a City Repair intern , Village Coalition Organizer, and Pod Designer.


As a Village Coalition intern with City Repair, I’ve had some uplifting opportunities to participate in events aimed at addressing houselessness in Portland. The Village Coalition is a group of organizers, individuals, and houseless villagers joining forces to come up with inventive solutions for the city’s growing houseless population. The coalition meets every other week with updates and to share resources for various projects and events. These meetings often run the gamut of emotions for me, from sadness and frustration when hearing accounts of camps being uprooted by recent sweeps, to heartwarming hopefulness when successes and victories are shared. Overall, it restores my faith in humanity to be in this room with so many people dedicated to making change.

 

On October 1st, I attended a design charrette hosted by PSU’s Center for Public Interest Design to come up with creative tiny houses (termed PODs by the city for permitting purposes) that could be combined to form houseless villages around the city. Attendees included architects, designers, houseless villagers, activists, and interested community members. As a designer, I thought it was a wonderful mix of people. Members of the houseless community were able to voice their needs and concerns for housing directly to architects and designers who can help create the plans and models needed to build pods for the houseless. In the end, each table presented their design solutions. This charrette was the first step in what will eventually be an exhibition of built PODs in December. The PODs will be displayed at various parks around the city to help familiarize the public with the houseless village model and challenge some of the existing perceptions regarding what houseless shelters can look like.

 

On October 9th and 11th, I also participated in a women’s shelter build, which took place at Castaway in NW Portland. Four 8’x8’ PODs are being built and will be donated to area churches for use as shelters on their property. The 9th was the first day of the build and, despite the rain, there was a great crew of volunteers. It was inspiring to see everyone work so well together. I was grateful for the more experienced carpenters who were willing to teach the rest of us the basics and keep things moving. I love to build things, but rarely have access to tools and materials, so this build felt extra-rewarding. It was a great opportunity to use my abilities and work with the community to build housing for women in need. On the first day, we started with an empty parking lot and piles of lumber, and ended with four framed shelters! The other build days were during the week, and expectedly slower, but when I was there on Tuesday, the shelters were sheathed and ready for siding, and roofing was underway. There were even plans for dog houses to be made out of scrap material, for occupant’s companion animals. This project is ongoing and has been relocated to the Rebuilding Center, but will hopefully be completed soon.

A TRIBUTE TO ZAHA HADID

This article was originally published on Blooming Rock Development's website by Taz Loomans, an architect, City Repair adviser, writer and advocate for sustainable building practices and community-oriented design living in Portland, Oregon. 

I don’t like starchitects. But I was very sad to hear about the death of Zaha Hadid yesterday. At 65, it was too soon, considering architects tend to mature and do some of their best work late in their careers. (For example, Frank Lloyd Wright received the commission to design the Guggenheim Museum when he was 76 and designed the Price Tower when he was 85.) Dame Hadid had a lot of great architecture still left in her, and it is a true loss for the world never to see it.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about Hadid. I stand in awe of her, her amazing career and her sheer strength to reach the heights she did in a very white male dominated profession. And yes, even I, a person who decries random forms for buildings at the expense of people’s experience of them, am moved by the sexy shapes of her buildings. My favorite Hadid building is the Sackler Gallery in London, which is breathtakingly sexy.

But Hadid did not make it easy to like her. CityLab reports that she said, “it was ‘not my duty as an architect’ to take actions over the deaths of the migrant workers Qatar during the construction of the Al-Wakrah Stadium.” She was also criticized for taking commissions from abusive regimes, such as the Heyder Aliyev Center in Azerbaijan, which she did unapologetically. I consider this lack of acknowledgement of social responsibility from Zaha a blind spot for her and a blind spot for the profession as a whole. Both her designs for Al-Wakrah and Heyder Aliyev got much critical accalim for their groundbreaking aethetics. But no matter how tempting it is, it is impossible to separate formalistic design achievement from its social implications and while Hadid got much praise for her design, she has also received much criticism for turning a blind eye to the larger social impacts of her work.

Hadid wasn’t an activist in her architecture per se, but she was a very successful activist in just being who she was, an Arab Muslim woman starchitect. Hadid is the only solo woman honored with the highest prize given an architect – the Pritzker Prize. If you look at thePritzker Prize laureates of the past, you will mostly see photos of white and Asian men. Kazuyo Sejima is the one other woman honored by Pritzker, in partnership with her male colleague Ryue Nishizawa for the work of their firm Sanaa.

Hadid didn’t like to harp on the importance of being a woman of color in a field of white men. CityLab quotes her, “‘I used to not like being called a woman architect. I’m an architect, not just a woman architect,’ she told CNN in 2012. And yet: ‘Guys used to tap me on the head and say, ‘You are okay for a girl.’ But I see the incredible amount of need from other women for reassurance that it could be done, so I don’t mind that at all.'”

For me, as an Indian Muslim woman architect, Hadid’s stardom in architecture has been incredibly important and inspiring. Regardless of how I feel about some of her stances, seeing a brown woman playing with the big boys like Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhas and Norman Foster and reaching the very top of the profession matters a lot.  It shows what’s possible for someone like me. We’re not all going to be Zaha, but just knowing that it’s possible for a minority woman to reach such heights is a huge step towards having more women, and more women of color, excel and achieve great things in architecture.

It was no cake walk for Hadid. She faced a lot of sexism along every step of the way on her rise to the top. She was known to be a difficult boss, unrelenting and uncompromising. In the very competitive and cut-throat world of starchitecture, her femaleness and race made her a target for more biting criticism than if she were a white man.

Stephen Bayley’s profile on Hadid for The Spectator is an example of how she was disliked for “deliberately creating buildings that ignore their context, have “questionable functionality” and are usually over budget,” as reported by Dezeen. Every starchitect I know of does just this! Do Gehry, Koolhas, and Foster buildings fit into their context, have greater functionality and come under budget more than Hadid buildings? No. Than why was she singled out for these things and told that “architecture would be better off without her”, as Bayley claimed?

Perhaps it’s because she was a woman leader. Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook says in her book Lean In, “our entrenched cultural ideas associate men with leadership qualities and women with nurturing qualities and put women in a double bind. We believe that women are not only nurturing, but they should be nurturing above all else. When a woman does something that signals that she may not be nice first and foremost, it creates a negative impression and makes us uncomfortable. If a woman is competent, she does not seem nice enough. If a woman is really nice, she is considered more nice than competent. Acting in stereotypically feminine ways makes it more difficult to reach for the same opportunities as men, but defying those stereotypes and reaching for those opportunities leads to being judged as undeserving and selfish.”

And thus, it was not an easy road for Hadid. And perhaps her early demise may have partially been caused by the very difficult path she took in life. She was called a diva, a bitch, and hard-hearted. She had her blind spots for sure. And I certainly didn’t agree with all of her viewpoints. But she persisted. She overcame. She pushed through the gargantuan hurdles posed by architecture for women and women of color. And she made it to the top of the mountain. And by doing so, she opened a door that was sealed so tightly shut that no one knew it even existed. The door to women and women of color to reach the very top of the architecture profession. For this and her bold architecture, I, for one, think architecture is a thousand times better off for having Hadid.

Photo Credit: Photo “by James Mitchell – FlickrLondon Aquatics CentreCC BY-SA 2.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27744007″