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Architecture Students Design Local and International Structures

Logan Mott and Kayla Gallo display their model for an addition to the Tunga Primary School in Malawi.
Logan Mott and Kayla Gallo display their model for an addition to the Tunga Primary School in Malawi.

There is no shortage of creativity and determination in the Architecture Department’s Communicorps course, an annual spring semester class where students design buildings for nonprofit community organizations. Students gave presentations on their projects, which included posters and models, on April 25 in the Student Center.

“The class is problem-based serving learning. It’s about getting the students engaged in a real-world project,” said Associate Professor of Architecture Peter Temple. “There are real clients, there is a real site. We ask the students to step forward into the professional workplace with the support of a teacher advisor, and to take ownership of their design.”

This semester the students were divided into three groups, each working on one of three major projects. For the first project, students were tasked with designing a new community center for Keene Housing that could offer space for after-school programs, events for the elderly and disabled residents, and social spaces for family and community gatherings.

“Bringing in the real-world aspects and working with a real client with real needs with real deadlines was a huge learning experience,” said Danielle Pinette, a student assigned to the Keene Housing project.

The second project, which came through the Boston chapter of Architects for Humanity and Adjunct Professor Kelsey Bradley, is an addition to the Thunga Primary School in Malawi with the purpose to provide educational space for an underserved population.

“Since my team was assigned Malawi, we needed to learn about a different culture,” said Kayla Gallo. “It was kind of a shock because we didn’t know anything about the country or the climate. We had to put in a lot of research, time, and work to get everything right.”

“We’ve never done a project outside the US or New England, so doing one so many miles away with so little knowledge going into the project definitely changed how we approached it,” added student Noah Ryan.

The third project was designing a new playground facility in Keene’s Robin Hood Park, with the goal of providing a multi-purpose room for summer camp activities and after-school programs, as well as rentable space for community and family gatherings.

The Communicorps class is a required course for all architecture majors and students are encouraged to take it during their sophomore year as it is designed to give context to the remainder of their coursework.

“It pushed us further than we’ve ever been pushed before,” said Logan Mott, who is majoring in architecture. “Working with communication, time-management, focusing on the project, it was all really difficult, but in the end, we learned much more.”

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