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Community Centers: How to Engage Sustainability and Community’s Resilience Through Design?

According to an article of Canadian Architect, now, more than ever, design should focus on community and the mitigation of climate change. The design sector, especially space’s design, should promote health and security for communities, by strengthening them and by fostering resilience.

“As architects and designers behind civic facilities, we have the unique opportunity to radically influence the strength of a community. These are facilities, after all, that specifically touch various facets of one’s life. They are commonly defined by their programmatic offerings, be it sports, learning, recreation, or leisure. But we also identify them as the places where we gather, celebrate or seek refuge. They are, by nature, spaces that are well positioned to foster community resiliency”.

Community Centers are starting the reopening process and now there are new challenges to overcome, for example, “navigating the latest in health policies and applying it to decades-old programming”. But at the same time, these challenges go in parallel with “evolving societal challenges to address social inequity and inclusion in such public spaces”.

“What’s more, mounting pressures due to the climate crisis and economic uncertainty call for a proactive response to integrating social and environmental resilience into every community center moving forward”.

According to the article there are three main aspects that can support and encourage community’s resilience: planning, engagement, and sustainability.

- Engagement: “respect the input of all voices”. Community centers should be places that hear voices but also reinforce equality, inclusivity, and respect. Consultation and accessibility are the keys of this point.

- Planning: “flexibility and strategic growth, unlocking potential”. Planning needs to be adapted to reality. It is important to optimize and rethink the typical recreation center floor plate by “creating multi-storey facilities, and flexible community spaces” (Vertical spaces).

- Sustainability: taking responsibility for what is happening to the planet and the future of the neighborhoods. Nowadays, “the new thinking on community centers requires them to be more efficient and strive for net-zero status in carbon and energy”. The principal role of the designers is to address climate changes issues, and work with clients to achieve these goals. According to the article there are more institutions that are demanding an extensive exploration of net-zero approaches, including passive design, photovoltaic array, geothermal, advanced building enclosures in the design strategies.

At MKThink we are also working on projects that look to involve urban design and planning with the needs of today such as health.


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