On May 31st and June 7th professionals across various fields in community development, engagement, and design came together for a discussion on public spaces. The significance of the summits was to discuss current strengths and weaknesses in the urban fabric of Boston and develop solutions to create an optimized social living experience for the city’s residents. In each summit, attendees discussed historical and current trends and how they idealize the future of social spaces. They participated in an activity called “Meet the Neighbors”, where participants placed themselves in the shoes of various characters, such as a high strung single mom, a recent graduate, or a shy adolescent. The goal was to generate ideas about objects, locations, and technology that can facilitate interaction even amongst the most conflicting of personality types and economic backgrounds. This ideal future was then further developed by breaking off into small groups and designing prototypes that would help bring the city to this ideal future. We will be showcasing these prototypes at ABX and HUBweek, so be sure to check it out!
WHAT’S IN joins District Hall for the second Café Night of the year to share our research in Compact Urban Living. Our own Aeron Hodges and Natalia Escobar lead a workshop to introduce the idea of “Living Small and Sharing More”. Among the 15 attendees, most lived in the city and shared an apartment due to the high rental cost.
When asked to prioritized shared amenities as a method to reduce individual living areas and rental cost, most preferred outdoor spaces, gyms and access to public transportation. The participants also brainstormed ways to meet their neighbors and come up with interesting ideas including “Happy hours with pets”, “programming through common interests”, and “multi-purpose laundry rooms”.
WHAT'S IN is thrilled to continue to have this relationship with District Hall and looks forward to future collaborations and discussions about social spaces and housing in Boston. Stay tuned for more!
After 4 years of research and design work, WHAT'S IN has finally published its work in a condensed book! Get a more in depths view of what we do and our research beyond what's posted online! It is a great resource to understand and learn about the housing issues that face Boston and other urban cities. Look forward to more work from us and check out the book here!Read More
Watch live as the WHAT'S IN team brings together professionals across many fields in community development, engagement, and design for a discussion on how to build a community. Topics include fostering strong communities in urban living, current trends in shared spaces in urban living, and the ways technology can foster social interaction. Check out our facebook page to catch the event Wednesday May 31st and Wednesday June 7th from 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm.Read More
This year WHAT'S IN is proud to announce 6 finalists for the QUAD 2017 competition. We were proud to receive almost 60 entries from across the globe with varied and thoroughly different approaches and concepts to the challenge. In the second phase, the finalists will receive $300 to produce a mock up and incorporate judging feedback. Check back again in July to see who the winner is!
In partnership with Corcoran Jennison Associates, WHAT’S IN was pleased to submit its response for the design and development of a parcel at 24 Westminster Avenue in Roxbury (a neighborhood of Boston) as part of the Garrison Trotter Housing Innovation Competition. Our design is rooted in the longstanding tradition of community living that is the trademark of Roxbury. In the triple decker units that housed the city’s 20th century working-class families, smaller living quarters was a relatively new concept, and resources were shared among the residents. The plan presented was designed as a modern-day interpretation of the triple decker, as the city seeks yet again to find the most efficient way to house its growing population.
QUAD joins the BSA exhibit OneRoomMansion at 290 Congress St. The installation, featuring the winning entry from KiKi Archi, includes series of hang-out zones and hosts the research from WHAT'S IN on "designing meaningful social spaces". The exhibit will be on show until January 30, 2017.
After 4 weeks of fabrication, WHAT'S IN opens the QUAD exhibit at ABX2016. The installation is a winning design by KiKiArchi and Kohji Kawabata, the structure is made of 372 folded paper pyramids, and the design is inspired by sunlight filtered through a tree canopy. Visit our "Exhibits" page for photos of the finished installation.
Our WHAT'S In team has been working hard the past few weeks with students from Wentworth Institute of Technology and MassArt alongside KiKi ARCHi to have this installation come to live at ABX Nov 15-17. "Folding Paper", the winning submission, is composed of 40" x 60" sheets of paper folded into origami-like triangular shapes assembled together through the use of card board tubes, zip ties, staples and round lumber pieces. The lightness, flexibility and affordability of the structure aligns with our continued research on innovative affordable micro-living in urban environments.
We would like to extend an invitation for everyone to attend our award and reception ceremony for QUAD 2016 at the BCEC (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center) on Nov 16th 5-6pm. There will be tons of food, drinks and interesting conversations about meaningful public spaces in urban living environments.
The Quad Competition is an international call for a social space installation. Proposals were challenged to envision a meaningful and impactful installation occupying a 20'x70' area that enriched the experience of social interactions. Proposals were asked to employ thoughtful and innovative exhibition and fabrication methods without sacrificing cost and feasibility of construction.
KiKi ARCHi, a Tokyo-based architecture design firm led by Yoshihiko Seki, was selected as the final winner among 6 finalists. The judging panel was impressed by the proposal's inventive use of a light-weight material, the thoughtful integration of research display, and the spatial quality the design is able to create. it is an elegant solution that's both sophisticated architecturally, and simple to fabricate.
Our team join has joined forces with the Mayor's Housing Innovation Lab and Boston Society of Architects to bring the concept of compact urban living to six Boston neighborhoods. The outreach effort brought to life a 385 sf apartment called uhu (Urban Housing Unit), with prefabricated exterior and a sleek and functional interior, all of which designed with affordability in mind.
WHAT'S IN designed a series of interactive games around the theme of communal spaces, compact living areas, and cost of renting a place in the city. The goal is to help the city find out what the neighborhoods are looking for in terms of housing affordability and what types of new living arrangements people would be comfortable with.
The team also designed a board game that invites residents to consider the trade-offs among apartment sizes, access to transit and urban amenities. We found out that, so far, majority of our participant prioritize the balance between all these elements over size alone.
Six entries were selected to proceed to the second phase of the Quad Competition - an open call to design a social space installation. The finalists are:
- Sonoscape – Merge Architects, Boston, USA
- Folding Paper –KiKi Architects, Tokyo, Japan
- Diamond Dancer - Nathan Hume, Andy Kim, Ardon Lee, Abigail Cover, NY, USA
- L.A.W.N. - David Emmons, Illinois, USA
- Pallet Bench - Leonard Yui, Sahoko Yui, Rhode Island, USA
- Micro Quad - Victoria Michael, Tahlia Woo, Australia
Our hard work finally paid off! On November 17-19th, the Urban Living Lab exhibit welcomed its visitors with research data in Boston housing, small living design solutions, robotic architecture from MIT media Lab, and a virtual mock showcasing all the designs WHAT'S IN came up with over the past year.
The exhibit structure is composed of 17 bays L-Shape 2x4 lumber connected on hinges. When each bay is expanded and placed at 3 ' apart, the structure takes shape of a series of truss-like gable pavilions. The display boards, painted on the exterior and laminated with our graphics on the interior, acts as a rigid diaphragm for the structure. Overall, each pavilion is themed with a research topic and is turned open on plan to allow entrance into the interior.
Each of the four pavilions take on a specific topic from WHAT'S IN design research. Pavilion one asks "how to address growing housing demands by year 2030", revealing the dire shortage of housing stock in Boston and the rapid increase in rental prices. Pavilion two proposed using "small-living" as a model for more affordable urban living, surveying exiting projects and proposing new designs in this relatively new typology. This pavilion also includes the studio work from the Roger Williams University students on their designs for a small-urban living project in South Boston.
Pavilion three looks for technology solutions to make small living spaces feel larger, showcasing the Architecture Robotics project from MIT Media Lab, and the Multi-wall product that could be customized with a variety of purposes. Pavilion four investigated solutions to building more small-living for affordable workforce housing in Boston, including policy changes proposed by the Mayor's Housing Innovation Lab, prefab and modular construction methods comparisons, as well as a discussion on the appropriate scale and structural system for this new housing typology.
Great many thanks to everyone that made this exhibit happen. We are really grateful for the Boston Society of Architects for including us again for ABX, Castle OS, HIL, Cubiq, RWU and MIT Media Lab for content collaboration, Whitney Veigas for donating time and resources for our graphics application, HBF/Davis/Lowenstein/Bernhardt/Redthread for their beautiful furniture pieces, and Stantec for all its continued financial support and much more beyond.
Making our cities affordable and livable will take more than just design, We had a lot of good discussions during the exhibit with students, housing experts, disruptive innovators, and policy makers. As a research group, we will keep exploring key aspects of the topic, and keep a platform of discussion going across different fields. See you next year!
Animish, Andrew, and Brent, the three champions of Urban Living Lab.
Aeron Hodges Receives ONEin3 impact award from Mayor on behalf of the WHAT'S IN team
As part of the crowd sourcing effort, WHAT'S IN organized a design workshop with the architects and interior designers from ADD Inc. / Stantec. Everyone was asked to design a 300 sf dream unit for themselves.
What's your ideal 300 sf?
* drawings produced by Animish Kudalkar