Students Transform Communities Through Design/Build Programs
“In order to do good, you first have to do something.” —Emily Pilloton, Founder, Project H
Over the course of a year, students in Studio H are tasked with designing, prototyping, and building a full-scale community development project. The high school design/build program sees integrating design and education as a way to improve the public education system, transform local communities, and arm students with creative, technical, and leadership skills.
Since the program was launched in 2010 by nonprofit design organization Project H, students have realized an award-winning 2,000-square-foot farmers market pavilion in a community that sorely needed better access to fresh food; playgrounds; school gardens; and chicken coops for families in need. They are currently working on building their own learning facilities.
Here in Vancouver, UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) runs a community outreach studio that focuses on projects in the Downtown Eastside. Students volunteer time and skills to design and build spaces using sustainable and recycled materials. Their projects include a 200-square-foot atelier inside a boutique for local artist Athena Theny and the Women’s Health Centre. Operated by the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective, the centre offers on-site nursing, yoga classes, art therapy, and a number of health workshops and seminars. SALA students recently built two additional treatment rooms at the centre to accommodate its expanding program.
Can design education play a more meaningful role in community transformation?