Nyasha Harper-Michon

Nyasha Harper-Michon



Think global, act local. Introducing the Place Responsive Design Method for resilience.

#archtivism is a movement that strives for a world where the building industry positively impacts our society, economy and environment. To tackle the main challenges of this globalisation era, homogeneity and the climate crisis in particular, #archtivism introduces the Place Responsive Design Method, a universal method for unique resilient designs.

The Place Responsive Design Method, applicable to any brief or site worldwide, is based on the pillars of place and sustainability: economy, society and environment. Each pillar and its subcategories provide the framework for local research to help determine the building’s positioning, form, materiality, structure and more, while anchoring it in its context. This simple method thus empowers designers to make informed design responses by collecting, interpreting and hierarchising local data, to use as the foundation of the design.

To demonstrate the method’s ability to foster resilience, a case study of a fictitious global co-living chain, Kumba, opening three locations across the globe - in Paris, France ; Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago and Washington D.C., United States of America - is elaborated. The private and collective spaces of the co-living complex are approached differently allowing for a business model that takes both the benefits of the local and the global. Regardless of location, the private spaces all feature the KumbaPod which regroups all the personal functions needed to live, assuring a consistent user and brand experience. The KumbaPod couples standardised global design with the use of local materials through digitalisation, CNC machine laser cutting and dry assembly. In contrast, the collective program - the shared kitchens, living rooms and amenities - is unique to each location as it is inspired by the buildings’ contexts as analysed and interpreted using the Place Responsive Design Method. Each of the case studies fosters resilience through its unique and tailored approach to the incorporation of the local economy and materiality, healthy living and well-being, conservation of environmental assets, and climatic and energy performance.

In essence, #archtivism addresses the need for a revolution in the tools and processes of architectural design by connecting practice and research; designer and place, for a resilient built environment.

Graduation committee: Marta M Roy Torrecilla (mentor), Chris Noteboom and Jo Barnett. Additional members for the exam: Bastiaan Jongerius and Jan van Grunsven.

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