SPRINGFIELD, Dec. 20 — The Architect’s Newspaper 2019 Best of Design Awards jury has selected the Hammons School of Architecture’s “A Home for MJ” project as the winner in the Student Work – Group category.
A group of fifth-year HSA Design-Build students under the direction of professor Traci Sooter, with funding from Jordan Valley Community Health Center, created a tiny home in late 2018 for the Eden Village project. Eden Village provides housing and a sense of community for the chronically disabled homeless in Springfield.
“A Home for MJ” was inspired by a 23-year-old deaf man, “MJ,” who was lost in plain sight on the streets of Springfield for five years. The intensive eight-week design process was centered on MJ’s unique needs and personal input. MJ moved into his new home one year ago, just before Christmas 2018.
“As my students were the same age as MJ, the folks at Eden Village thought pairing him with our design team would be a good match,” Sooter said. “The students conducted client interviews with him, and he participated in design presentations and our volunteer build day on campus. MJ’s articulate feedback to student design presentations helped sharpen their listening and design response skills. Discovering ways in which architecture can support persons who are deaf will have a lasting impact on the students that can be applied to their professional work.”
Drury students created a visual-centric design based on MJ’s need to visually control his space. Because MJ can’t hear tornado sirens, the house was created to be resistant to tornadic wind loads and debris impact per FEMA specifications. The inside of the home features blue hues that provides contrast for hands while using sign language, and a living space that includes a library/gaming hub, reading nook and a custom chess/dining table. Externally, the house has wrap-around stairs, a front porch, and flanking planter boxes to welcome neighbors, also once homeless, from the tiny home community. Planter boxes conceal storage for a bicycle.
The Architect’s Newspaper speaks directly to leaders in architecture and design with news, products, developments, trends, and updates. “A Home for MJ” was judged based on several criteria, including strength of the presentation, evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, and, most importantly, good design.
“It is very humbling to be recognized by this national design award and we are very grateful to be recognized among an impressive field of entrants,” Sooter says. “It is our hope that the national exposure of this project leads to cites across the country implementing the Eden Village model and ending homelessness for the disabled, and to universities creating experiences like this for their students.”