This June along with some friends, I enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the 2012 Common Boston Common Build Competition. The ‘Common WIT’ team comprised Wentworth alumni that all currently work as designers in four different Boston area firms. Since architecture school, it was truly refreshing to take a break from the rigors of the profession to collaborate in a creative design exercise outside of the studio.
Common Boston, organized by the Boston Society of Architects, brings young designers and the public together to inspire our build environment. Located in Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace, the Fenway Victory Gardens acted as both the site and client for the Common Boston Common Build installations this year. The competition criteria called for teams to establish a relationship with the site and react to the community’s real needs. With a $200 construction budget and a required construction material of CMU blocks, each team had 72-hours to design and build their installations.
After immersing ourselves in the site and interviewing the community, it became our goal for our project to engage the community and create more interactions amongst gardeners. Throughout our exchanges with the gardeners, we discovered that the community lacked a social network and needed space for the gardeners to socialize. Keeping to our budget, we wanted to maximize the use of our materials to create a space that spoke to the language of the community gardens. We arranged our project along a centrally located path to draw the community into the space and showcase the gardeners and their plants.
“To embrace Common Boston’s theme, Off the Grid, “Social Roots” promotes networking the old-fashion way; face-to-face. The design develops a centralized space for the gardeners and individuals to post their achievements, tag their personal plants, and foster friendship within the Victory Garden’s community. The same theme of connections was utilized in the construction of the support frames; every material is interdependent to support the composition aesthetically and structurally.”- Common WIT
Shortly after assembling our installation, “Social Roots,” the gardeners became very intrigued and engaged with our project. We observed the community utilize our project as a gateway to socialization and it felt surreal. Our idea worked! The community was more than willing to give a plant, share a fun fact about themselves, and exchange gardening tips. “Social Roots” was well received by the community and jury as we were presented with the first place prize this past Wednesday evening at the BSA. I encourage all young designers to stay involved with their community and participate in Common Boston next year.
Common Boston Common Build
Metropolis Mag – June 28, 2012
Metropolis Mag – June 29, 2012