Community Inter[Sur]faces

Reimagining the built environment as a series of “interfaces for the future,” this thesis develops a multi-scalar model for sustaining community involvement by hybridizing forward-looking programs (a childcare center, an urban farm, a public forum) and creating spaces for dialogue. Interfaces, upon closer examination, can be useful to architects because of how they sponsor exchanges between multiple actors or systems. To quote media scholar Alexander Galloway, “an interface is not a thing, an interface is always an effect,” or a method of mediation. Instead of focusing on the design of object-buildings, architects must prioritize material relations that can bring together different constituencies. To that end, Community Inter[Sur]faces studies the potential of the architectural surface as a medium for conversation and public engagement.

The project is sited in Dorchester, a neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. Looking ahead to 2030, the local government has proposed a plan to enhance connectivity and raise the quality of life by creating more green space and open space. Increasing platforms for community participation will be necessary in order for the area’s future development to adequately address the needs of its residents. This thesis explores what happens if architecture’s surfaces—walls, floors, facades, grounds—are reconceived as dynamic urban interfaces that can negotiate complex relationships between Site + Context; Building + Site; Inside + Outside; Individual + Collective; Young + Old; and Present + Future. Social infrastructure is produced by carefully considering thickness, layering, tactility, maintenance, and mobility. The daycare, farm, and forum exist across the interfaces as three programs that each have their own temporalities but, together, promote long-term investment in the neighborhood.
Faculty Advisor:
Cyrus Peñarroyo