More than 25 high school students from across New Orleans, most of whom had never met an architect, recently took part in the inaugural Project Pipeline Architecture and Design Camp — a four-day, intensive workshop intended to introduce the process of design to a community with historically limited access to the design profession. The camp, organized by the Louisiana Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA LA), was held at the Tulane School of Architecture the weekend of July 26-29.
With an army of volunteers on hand, Project Pipeline engaged the students in critical thinking activities, site visits, design challenges, and model building to help demonstrate the effect that design has on their day to day lives.
The intention of the program’s curriculum was to “help to form a better understanding of, and ultimately, assess the relationships between the students’ respective Personal Spaces, Neighborhood Spaces, and City Spaces.” said Project Pipeline Director Bryan C. Lee Jr.
NOMA LA, whose mission is to promote diversity in architecture and design, spent several months developing Project Pipeline to be specific to students who live in the New Orleans community. One aim was to ensure that the program content made a direct connection to the participants. “Throughout the camp, students engaged in activities that rooted their designs in the context of personal and community needs and preferences. Consequently, a real sense of ownership and pride was evident in their final presentations, where the students presented their designs to their peers, family members and community leaders,” commented Program Coordinator, Sabeen Fatima Hasan.
Over four days, each student was given the opportunity to design his or her own house, work within a team to design a neighborhood and discover how those neighborhoods connect to form a city. As if that weren’t enough, each team then took on the task of designing a community center that represented a particular need of the city they built. “It’s fascinating how students developed incredible architectural responses in such a short time. Without exception the designs responded to the basic concepts of architecture taught during the camp - concepts that are crucial to creating responsible and appropriate neighborhood design” said NOMA LA President-elect Jose Alvarez.
As one student put it, “this was a unique program,” and “I would definitely come back next year!”
Following the success of its inaugural camp, Project Pipeline will exhibit student work, event photography and video clips from the camp at the New Orleans African American Museum from August 16th through September 5th. Future plans for Project Pipeline include the implementation of a bi-weekly workshop series expected to start in January of next year.
All images courtesy of NOMA LA.