i + D - September/October 2020 - 38

Take Refuge - By Brian J. Barth

Ultrasleek spaces
that might feel pleasantly
minimalist and sophisticated
to a well-off urban
professional can come
off as cold and sterile to
someone whose previous
home was a tent.

A concept for a family dining room at Caritas Village Homes & Center
in Santa Rosa, California. The completed center will include services and
housing solutions for currently and formerly homeless residents.
(Image: Renderings by PYATOK architecture + urban design)

A Little TLC Goes
a Long Way
Michael Pyatok, the founder of PYATOK architecture + urban
design, an Oakland, California, firm known for its focus
on low-income and affordable housing, cautions against
overselling design as a solution to the issues facing displaced
people. "Their most immediate needs are going to be
addressed by human beings and not by inanimate places
and spaces," he says. "But after those needs are attended
to, design can help."
He's discerned a few rules of the road of his own after five-plus
decades of practice. One that he strains to instill in younger
designers is to avoid much of what is trendy in the design
world today. Such designs often tend toward ultrasleek spaces
that might feel pleasantly minimalist and sophisticated to a
well-off urban professional, but can come off as cold and sterile
to someone whose previous home was a tent. "Nothing bright,
sharp, or hip," he says. "What might appeal to someone
who wants to look cool in the eyes of the design media is not
what should be done here. We're looking for almost a kind
of architectural comfort food."
Eschew plastics and metals, Pyatok says, in favor of natural
materials. Greenery and flowers are extremely important,
he adds. "Particularly flowers. It's important to provide an
environment that feels like someone's giving you a bouquet,"
he says. Admitting that many such projects will be subjected
to "devastating value engineering," he says that's why it's
important to start with a high bar. In a recent homeless shelter
that his firm designed in Santa Rosa, California, a hung ceiling
of warm-toned wood slats was specified throughout the
facility. In the end, it was only installed in a few common areas,
but at least the building has some spaces without the default
industrial-style ceiling.
"These spaces need to be calming, but also send the message
that no matter how dire their circumstances, the residents are
still loved and respected," says Pyatok. "You have to design
something that says to people, 'I love you.'"

A welcoming roof terrace adds to the sense of home
and community at a special needs housing project designed by
PYATOK architecture + urban design, in Oakland, California.
(Image: David Wakely Photography)

38

i+D - September/October 2020



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
i + D - September/October 2020 - 8
i + D - September/October 2020 - 9
i + D - September/October 2020 - 10
i + D - September/October 2020 - 11
i + D - September/October 2020 - 12
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i + D - September/October 2020 - 36
i + D - September/October 2020 - 37
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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
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20191112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20191112_french
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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
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