Our conversations with Friendship Court residents have revealed a number of ways that indoor and outdoor spaces could serve them better.
Outdoor Social Spaces
What we learned: There are no good outdoor social spaces.
Courtyards are oriented toward young children. Much of the green space is unusable. The parking lot is a place where people often loiter. Residents aren’t allowed to hang out on their porches. They want places to sit and to actively engage with the outdoors.
What that tells us: Residents value personal exterior space but also want common spaces that serve a wide range of users.
Play Spaces for Children
What we learned: Families with children value connection to the outside.
One resident commented that if you don’t live adjacent to a courtyard with play equipment or the exterior play space, it can be difficult to let your child play outside because you can’t watch them from your apartment.
What that tells us: The priority is for lines of sight rather than direct physical access, suggesting that families with children could be organized around courtyards but may not require direct access from their unit.
What we learned: Safety can be an issue with the exterior spaces adjacent to units.
All units have exterior storage. For some, the storage space sits directly in front of the unit, opposite the front door. Residents feel that this creates an unsafe space. People can loiter here and be shielded from public view if they’re involved in illicit activity.
What that tells us: Safety is not only a design imperative to be tackled at the site level, but also in the way that units and building open to the outside.
Personalization and Beauty
What we learned: Management rules limit the ways residents can personalize their spaces, so residents take full advantage of any small opportunity to do so.
Rules prevent things like planting flowers (a request from a teen workshop participant) or painting walls any color but off-white. Painting must be done by the management company, another limitation. Residents personalize their spaces in other ways, from decorations in the homes to “wrapping” front doors at Christmas.
What that tells us: Residents desire fewer arbitrary rules, more freedom, and more beauty inside and outside their units.
Quality of Light
What we learned: Apartment interiors are very dark.
Window size and placement, low ceilings and paint colors make many units feel dark and claustrophobic. Even during the day with open shades, the amount of natural daylight is quite limited. Residents are only allowed to use low-wattage bulbs, too weak to make much difference.
What that tells us: The building and unit designs need higher ceilings; more and larger windows; and better interior lighting, particularly in common spaces.
What we learned: Apartment interiors are residents’ primary social spaces, but they’re too small for that purpose.
All the rooms feel small. Living rooms don’t accommodate large families. Bedrooms in particular are quite small. The layouts of the units vary, but none offer open floor plans.
What that tells us: Redevelopment needs to use modern, market-driven floor plans for all apartments. These can offer more efficient, comfortable and attractive spaces in limited square footage.
What we learned: Teenagers want more privacy.
They have few if any spaces specifically intended for them. Within the units, bedrooms are small and often shared between siblings. (“More bedrooms” is a frequent request from teens.) The only space frequently used by teens at the Community Center is the computer lab. Teens’ desires are worth noting: while most children at Friendship Court are now younger than 12, by the time redevelopment is complete most will be teenagers.
What that tells us: We need to think about features for accommodating a larger teenage population, including opportunities for greater privacy in units and teen-specific spaces in common areas.
What we learned: Conflicts can arise between households with children and those without – largely focused on issues such as noise and levels of activity.
What that tells us: We need to think about how to distribute unit types, acoustical treatments, and other design elements to ease these conflicts.
What we learned: Many residents believe the fence around the site makes the site feel like a prison.
Although installed to reduce crime, the fence instead feels like a wall keeping residents in and creating opportunities for conflict at the few entry/exit points. (And it doesn’t keep negative elements out of the site.)
What that tells us: There needs to be better flow into and out of the site to remove pinch points. We also need to think about how to design for a sense of safety.
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What do you think? Continue the conversation with a comment below.
In our next Master Plan blog post, we’ll take a look at the opportunities for redevelopment to improve residents’ quality of life.
Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – What We Heard and What That Tells Us (Apartment Exterior + Interior)