Elements in Transitional Space

By Liliane Wong.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Elements in Transitional Space is a study of the relationship between design and previously homeless men and women living in transition houses. This relationship is explored through the built projects of first-year graduate students in the Department of Interior Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), over a five-year period as they worked with residents of different transition houses in the Boston area.

First implemented through a teaching research grant in 2003, Elements in Transitional Space is now part of the design curriculum. Each fall, in partnership with transition houses affiliated with the largest homeless shelter in New England, first year graduate students pair up with different residents of these transition houses to discuss their design needs. In six weeks, the students work with their clients to design, build and install pieces that meet their particular set of criteria.

As a study of space and its potential to rehabilitate, the designs consist of small interventions into the space the occupants of the transition houses spend each day as they try to establish a life outside of homelessness. In contrast to life as a homeless person with a shopping cart or in the impersonal rows of bunks and public toilets of the emergency shelters, the transition houses are situated in homelike settings with private rooms and common spaces. The use of a kitchen, separate bath, common living rooms, and laundry facilities allows the individual to redefine concepts of privacy. The pieces, each based on the personal criteria of the user(s), strive to enhance the rehabilitative process through design intervention.

The presentation will include photo documentation of the different designs from initial installation through several years of use in rehabilitation.

Keywords: Homeless, Rehabilitation, Design, Case Studies, Boston, Massachusetts

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.161-174. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.085MB).

Prof. Liliane Wong

Professor, Department of Interior Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Liliane Wong is a professor of design at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI. She received her MArch, Master in Architecture, from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a BA, Bachelor of Art, in Mathematics from Vassar College. Her Boston based practice of architecture includes the design of libraries, modular housing and furniture. Her teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design has focused on design for the homeless and the low income family. She is currently working on the reuse of an historic church as a facility for homeless persons in Connecticut. Her current research includes the influence of non Euclidean math on curved space. She is a co-author of a journal on adaptive reuse in North America.

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