A Flexible Landscape
The Center Peace neighborhood in Milwaukee's Sherman Park is made up of common duplex and single family homes. These building forms create visual patterns, such as alternating entry and window modules, rows of gable roofs and porches, and a repeated sequence of entry thresholds between building facades and the street front . These patterns work as a visual grammar that informs resident behavior in space. As a designer, I adapted this grammar to create a series of design options along 40th Street in the Center Peace neighborhood. The syntax and grammar of the buildings allowed me to judiciously insert catalytic elements that provided residents opportunities for radical social change and innovative uses.
Current residents of this neighborhood have diverse wants, needs, lifestyles, and perspectives. Adapting the flexible vernacular architecture of duplex homes, I propose three design strategies that address different needs and lifestyles. I have used a vacant, city-owned duplex building located on 40th Street as a case study to test my design proposals. However, the basic logic of these transformations may be applied to other duplex homes in the neighborhood and tailored to suit the specific needs of individual users.
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As neighbors, individuals living on 40th Street come together to form a community. The socio-spatial relationship that makes communities is called "neighborliness" by urban scholars. Neighborliness is manifested through acts of stewardship , security , and most importantly, sociability . By designing and inserting physical forms supporting shared and public activities along a street, my proposal offers sites for neighborly activities, behavior, and practices.
At a human scale, I proposed a series of ideas to reactivate underutilized spaces in between homes. These side-yard proposals provide spaces for neighbors to interact and share.
Within the larger landscape of the street, I propose spaces that enhance walkability, safety, and sociability. A series of planters along the street create social spaces and small gardens. A series of street bump outs increase pedestrian use and act as traffic calming devices. These spaces act as shared, public nodes within the community, encouraging social interactions and promoting strong and weak social ties.
 Iain Borden and Jane Rendell, Intersections: Architectural Histories and Critical Theories, (Psychology Press, 2000) 240.
 Dana Cuff, "The Figure of the Neighbor: Los Angeles Past and Future," American Quarterly 56, no. 3 (2004): 567.
 Bernard L. Herman, et al., Town House: Architecture and Material Life in the Early American City, 1780-1830, (The University of North Carolina Press, 2005).
 Jacobs, Jane, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, (New York: Random House, 1961).
 Jan Gehl, Life between Buildings: Using Public Space, (Island Press, 2011).