Life is enhanced when it is shared. Shared spaces, shared experiences, and shared traditions bring meaning to life and impact the way that we engage with the world and those in it. To better provide the elders of the Bay Mills Indian Community the opportunities for meaningful connection to one another, to the natural world, and to their own built environments, Seven Generations Architecture + Engineering designed a housing development that fosters a relational elder community.
To honor the traditions of the tribe, Seven Generations A + E took a collaborative approach to design, incorporating elements of the Anishinaabek culture and weaving them into every phase of creation. This human-centered examination of how spaces connect to their inhabitants, known as the Five Human Factors, considers the physical, cognitive, social, cultural, and emotional aspects of human existence within their environments. This collaborative process reveals the specific, unique ways that potential tribal elders will eventually utilize the space for meaning, connection, fulfillment, health, and overall wellbeing. By carefully considering the way that residents will inhabit these spaces, we are able create an environment that does more than just accommodate the lifestyles of individuals and communities: It is carefully designed to maximize intentional, meaningful interaction.
Some of these interactions are represented by the way that residents will interact with the physical, organic world around them. As a result, the community is sited in such a way that every resident is oriented among the elements, acknowledging the prevailing winter winds, and capturing the benefits of cool summer breezes off the waters of Spectacle Lake as well as the direction of seasonal solstices. These elements of nature shaped everything from the site and home plans to roof shape and window choices.
Many of the most meaningful interactions in a pocket neighborhood like this one will be between residents. To foster those connections, the individual homes’ screened front porches open to a shared community green, and earthen pathways flow from first light in the east to the water’s edge in the west, where neighbors can gather to be warmed by the flames of the firepit under the moonlit night sky.
The very nature of a housing cluster like this lends itself to a safe, communal environment that sparks spacial connection and nurtures strength and dignity through belonging to the tribe, belonging to the ecosystem, and belonging to a group shaped and defined by the built environment and its shared spaces. This valuable sense of place and home within the greater world is an ancient human need with the power to enhance quality of life through spiritual, emotional, physical and mental balance and wellness.
7GAE is proud of the work done to design this pocket neighborhood for the Bay Mills Indian Community. Stay tuned for additional updates as we work towards the groundbreaking, document the construction process, and reveal the completed project.