i + D - September/October 2020 - 35

Take Refuge - By Brian J. Barth

Those who have
the least stand to
benefit the most from
designers' talents

Bakhita Gardens is not your average homeless shelter. Located in Seattle,
the soaring ceilings and oversized windows of this "permanent supportive
housing" facility-a combination of affordable housing with the on-site social
services typically found in short-term homeless residences-make this much
clear upon arrival. Striking works of art are hung in the hallways, whose
walls are painted in soothing tones picked not by a harried contractor but
by a designer with a caring and discerning eye, Bill Singer of Environmental
Works Community Design Center. It's a far cry from the damp, dark space
beneath the parking garage that the facility previously occupied. Jill Pable,
founder of Design Resources for Homelessness and the chair of Florida State
University's interior architecture and design program, noted in her analysis
of Bakhita Gardens that it looks "no different than other apartment buildings
nearby offering a new, tacit statement of respect."
Pable created Design Resources for Homelessness, an online platform
offering case studies and analyses of best design practices for at-risk
groups, to combat the dearth of knowledge in this arena within the
profession. She says that one of the most effective features at Bakhita
Gardens-according to interviews with residents-is the "sleeping pods."
Rather than a dormitory-style arrangement with rows of beds in a large,
open room, as found in many shelters, each resident occupies their own
cubicle with lockable storage, a shelf for displaying special personal objects,
a reading light, and a small refrigerator. The 52-inch-high cubicle walls
provide a balance of privacy and community. "The form arose from
discussions with the women themselves," says Pable. "Women who
have experienced domestic violence want their privacy, but they also want
to have the reassurance that people who have experienced violence like
they have are nearby. They want to hear somebody else breathing at night."
Another design feature that originated from discussions with residents
is equally simple: signs at the entrance to each pod that can be flipped
from "stop" to "go," depending on one's mood. "This way residents can
let others know if they want to accept visitors at that time or not," Pable
explains. "That may not seem like a big deal, but having the ability to
control access to yourself is huge for someone who has experienced
domestic violence."
Pable is one of a handful of interior designers in the country focused on
designing for marginalized groups, though she says the topic is increasingly
of interest among her students. Whether it's a homeless shelter in Seattle,
Section 8 housing in New York, or a refugee camp in Bangladesh, the
effective design of shelter for those who lack it flows from an understanding
of an experience that unifies these disparate groups: trauma. That trauma
may take different forms-violence, economic hardship, discrimination,
et cetera-but there are some common principles for how a space can help
soothe it rather than exacerbate it, as has often been the case in these hastily
constructed spaces. "It's a unifying way to think about this," says Pable,
a pioneer in the emerging field of trauma-informed design.

i+D - September/October 2020

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i + D - September/October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i + D - September/October 2020

Contents
i + D - September/October 2020 - Cover1
i + D - September/October 2020 - Cover2
i + D - September/October 2020 - 3
i + D - September/October 2020 - 4
i + D - September/October 2020 - 5
i + D - September/October 2020 - Contents
i + D - September/October 2020 - 7
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i + D - September/October 2020 - Cover3
i + D - September/October 2020 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20210102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20201112_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20201112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200910_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/asid/design_product_guide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200708_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200506_french
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200102_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20191112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20191112_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190910_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190708_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190506_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190304_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190102_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20181112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20181112_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180910_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180708_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180506_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180304_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180102_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180102
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com