Building Hope By Caring
Celebrating history and righting past wrongs.
My post last week highlighted how Ava and Juhi demonstrated how to plan for resilience in the face of the certain disruptions of climate change. Today we continue with two more visionary young architects, Jazmin Inoa and Leah Clark. Both designed projects that seek to right past wrongs through community-focused radical imagination.
Leah’s master’s thesis explored how a architecture might be used to alleviate the pervasive, interlinked problems of lot vacancy and homelessness in west Baltimore. Jazmin dug to the foundations of the rich, largely forgotten history of her site in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C. and discovered its identity as part of a greater history of Black people in that area.
Leah proposed reinhabiting a neighborhood quickly by housing its most vulnerable people, on the principle that housing is the essential building block of all cities. As she said in the interview, “Housing is a human right. A place to call home is not only connected with safety and self-worth, but with our very humanity.”
Jazmin was inspired by a quote from the architect, W.G. Clark: “Architecture seeks not only the minimal ruin of landscape, but something more difficult: a replacement of what was lost with something that atones for the loss. In the best architecture, the replacement is through an intensification of the place.” Her project reimagines Anacostia’s Berry Farm as a cutting-edge Permaculture landscape with homes, local businesses, a rec center, a heritage trail and history center, and gathering spaces for the community.
Leah proposed cladding her houses and community centers in wood shipping pallets to highlight a humble material that we use and then discard. Her project gives the pallets new life, echoing the larger theme of her thesis to give people who have been discarded by society a new purpose, a second chance at life.
From its agricultural origins as a place of refuge for freed slaves in the 1870s, Jazmin’s site became a thriving, self-sufficient community with churches, schools, houses, and farms. During and following WWII, Berry Farms was developed with public housing and community-serving institutions and outdoor recreation. Nearly all of those homes were razed in 2019, and the site is currently being considered for transit-oriented-development, conceived and funded by for-profit developers. Jazmin’s proposal reconnects residents with their history and celebrates a resilient future.
Leah is building hope by bringing much-needed awareness to the issues of lot vacancy and homelessness. Jazmin is building hope by caring and imagining better outcomes for Berry Farm and the people of Anacostia. As she said, “I don't necessarily have the answers, but it starts with caring.”
What I appreciate most about each of their projects is how imaginative they are, how positive and optimistic. They are both beautiful visions of what is possible when we start with caring about people and communities.
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This project is supported by a Faculty-Student Research Award from the Graduate School, University of Maryland, as well as grants from the University’s Sustainability Fund and the School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation.