Community Design - A Journey through the US

Community Design -  A Journey through the US
Credits : Anna-Laura Bourguignon and Clément Aquilina - Mission District
Since the 60’s, community designed projects have emerged in the US. How did community planning have evolved? What can we learn for european cities?

Anna-Laura Bourguignon and Clément Aquilina
Saint-Ouen, 93400, France
Team members
Clément Aquilina
Anna-Laura Bourguignon
Field of work
Architecture, Urban planning, Research
Project category
Raising awareness
Project submitted

I am a Franco-Mexican architect based in Paris. I studied in Paris, Mexico City and Grenoble, where I specialized in Earthen Construction with the Craterre Laboratory. Through my cultural heritage, I developped a strong interest for materiality, specifically earth, a material working for me as remembrance of ancient building techniques, still present in most parts of Mexico.

Through my education, I got an interest for architecture as a social and political tool and since, I have worked integrating partipatory process to all my projects. Working in architectural NGOs for community design (Apoyo Urbano in El Salvador and Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée in Paris), I then founded my own practice and co-founded a non profit (Capaz).

In 2020, I was awarded the Delano Aldrich Grant from the American Institute of Architecture to research on Community Design in the USA and travel for three month with my partner Clément Aquilina from LAOSCOP. We are planning an exhibition in France and are starting a book on our research

Achievements :
• Earthen Pavilion for Chaumont-sur-Loire 2020 -
• Research on Community Design in the USA - Delano Aldrich Fellowship 2020
• Bamboo Flush - Phyto-remediated toilets in Vietnam - Published in Festival « Le Off du DD » 2021
• Member of the jury for the Rammed Earth Pavilion - 2023
• Selected for the Entrepreneurs Club of the « Le Roch-Les Mousquetaires Foundation »
• Exhibition for Earthen Construction - Collectif terre Ile-de-France - Paris - October 2023
• Exhibition for Community Design in the USA - Maison de l’Architecture de Grenoble - October 2023

By studying Community Design- a movement founded in the USA since the 1960s - we observed the country as a historical center of protest movements, where inhabitants have sometimes been able to sometimes modify the planned destiny of their neighbourhood. We chose 3 contexts :

1. New York and San Francisco: How to initiate citizen actions in such large metropolis? New York and San Francisco have been major cities, pioneers in community design since the 1960s and 1970s. The past years provide a critical and realistic exemple of the sustainability of these actions and their resistance to the institutionalization of citizen involvement processes.

2.Detroit and New Orleans: From Disaster Cities to New City Models? If Detroit was known for its automobile and music industry, since 2013 it has been known as a bankrupt city. From this phenomenon non profit organisations have been created around deconstruction, recycling, urban agriculture. The city harbors many projects showing citizen’s ability to act and take charge of the neighborhood development. New Orleans experienced a natural disaster in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina which devastated the city. How have its inhabitants been involved in the reconstruction and what changes did it bring?

3. San Diego and El Paso: From résident to citizen? These border cities condense immigration issues. Formerly cities where the borders were daily crossed by Mexican workers who returned home at night, today these towns are home to large communities from Latin America, some in precarious living conditions on either side of the closed border.

In each city we met architects and urban planners, non profit organizations, city planning department, and universities. Our aim is to write a book about the projects we visited, about the discussions we had with all stakeholders, and about the questions this research rose for us as architects working in an European contexts and raising awareness about : immigration, access to land...