Friday, June 15, 2012

HYCC - Make Ours Green project

"Make Ours Green" was the title of this Spring's Green architecture
project at Hawthorne Youth and Community Center's after school
program. It was made possible through a Boston Foundation
for Architecture grant and supported by Friends of
the Dudley Library and the Dudley literacy center. As usual the
final exhibit is on display at the Dudley library for all to enjoy.
The photo above shows how the display looks in the library.

With the help of mentors from HYCC kids
learned about "green" architecture I accompanied them on trips
and helped  facilitate. Three sites in our Highland Park
neighborhood are slated for green architecture projects so
the time was right to discuss green building and energy
saving concepts with HYCC  youth and families.

Construction is under way at "Powahouse" a
project, just a short walk from HYCC.  The kids loved
seeing the "bones" of the house and everything that is
hidden behind the interior walls of a house. The Archventures
mentors did a great job of explaining various aspects including
the "light wells" the air exchange, the super insulation, the
"bridge" feature in one of the units, the plumbing and the
plans for solar panels etc.   The kids especially enjoyed the
view from the roof deck. Check out the powahouse blog
for May 25:
it shows some of the kids on tour.  The blog is written
from the perspective of the house which might explain
the confusion that these are elementary school, not
middle school children.  Sometimes houses, even smart
green buildings can't distinguish school levels very well.

One of the other designated sites, but one which doesn't
yet have construction started, was chosen by the kids for
their imagined houses.  It is across from Marcella Park
which the kids know well.

They decided to design two units - one for 5 people,
and one for 10 with extended family possibilities. Each
house has a bedroom and bath on the first floor for a
grandparent or two. As a grandparent myself,  I was
pleased to hear them take us into consideration.

After sketching some floor plans, they refined their
ideas using blocks and legos. Working with the blocks
they determined the large unit should have 2 compact
bedrooms for the 4 children and a large playroom
(complete with flat screen TV).  Ingenuity soared as
one student designed a toilet which would be both comfy
and include the idea of composting. He had never heard of 
composting toilets. I brought in some materials about them
so he could do further research.

Archventures brought laser cut cardboard
pieces and model construction began.

The buildings grew, floor plans were created,
and colorful exterior walls painted.

These would definitely be houses noticed from a distance.
Every floor had its own color. Outside walls were insulated
(polyester simulating cellulose..)  and colorful interior walls
added. The mentors explained why it was important to think
through which rooms should be facing south to get the most
light. The kids put in the largest windows there.
This is the south face of the finished model:

Complete with solar panels facing south, backyard
sculpture, a meditation space and third floor open
space adjoining the master bedroom (and hot tub room).
This is the North Face:

And the aerial view which shows common roof
garden  and/or green roof:

Wonder if the Archventure team got any ideas for
future designs?

At the presentation, kids explained to parents and
community about the model and what they had learned.
Archventures provided some intriguing maps of the
neighborhood and comparisons with downtown Boston
which were displayed along with sketches by the kids.

Certificates and green necklaces were handed out and
dinner enjoyed with family, friends and library staff.

Unfortunately with end of school logistics, not
too many of the youth could be at the presentation,
but they will be able to take their parents and
friends to see the display at the library all summer.

In the Fall, we'll take the youth back to Powahouse
when it is completed in September. They will watch the
empty lot they chose as green construction begins there.
It will be fun for them to compare their designs  to
what is built and to watch for construction on the third
site just around the corner from HYCC. Building
should begin there soon as well.

The HYCC kids invite everyone down to the Dudley
branch  library to see their exhibit and learn a bit more
about green architecture.  HYCC staff and kids thank
everyone for making the project possible.

For now, I'm off to New Jersey, to help one of our
daughters and family get ready to move to Ecuador.
Looks like South American travel will be in our future
again. Then home to set up a show of my work at a
local cafe in early July.

Adventure on.     Wendy