Name: Idette de Boer
Talk Title: “Community outreach design.”
Notes: Masters of Architecture, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, 3rd year.
Studio 801, UBC Community Outreach Studio.
Topic: STUDIO 801 is community outreach studio comprised of a group of students from the Master of Architecture program and their professor, Inge Roecker, a German/Canadian architect. As designers we believe that a well-designed space contributes to a healthy community and that city-making occurs incrementally with each project.
One example of this is our first project – Lu’s: A Pharmacy for Women and a new home for the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective (VWHC). Located in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, this project focuses on not only bringing a source of primary care to women for whom health care is not constant, but it also includes an innovative business model – the social enterprise. The centre consists of a pharmacy for women (run as a social enterprise to fund the VWHC), a nurse and doctor’s office, a facility for naturopathic treatment and classroom, and research spaces for education regarding women’s health.
The work that has already been done has been spread out over three semesters: research, design and construction. The research semester consisted of cataloguing the pharmacies in the neighbourhood, comparing the 1997 deregulation of methadone prescriptions to the prevalence of pharmacies in the area. These pharmacies, known on the street as “legal drug-dealers”, have become increasingly inhospitable and dangerous places for residents in the area, especially for women.
Given the pending 2010 Olympics, the DTES is seeing rapid gentrification. In effect, the residents of the DTES are being designed out of their community. This is not the fault of design, it is the fault of what design implies in our society. As designers, we believe that good design is not just a certain aesthetic, style or colour palette. Good design means functional space that works. Good design can serve to anchor a community project—especially important in a neighbourhood easily eroded by exterior interests. All people deserve good design.