2021 AIA Housing Awards: Bastion Community by Office of Jonathan Tate
Inspired by the ideals of a community model that places foster children and older caregivers in mutually beneficial living arrangements, Bastion Community promotes an inclusive and thriving live-work environment for returning veterans with lifelong rehabilitation needs and their families. The community’s progressive and supportive living environments reveal the potential of intergenerational communities to address the gap in public and private veteran housing programs.
The 58-unit development is located in an area of New Orleans with a long history of community-generated change. To shape the project, the team first worked as coordinators for a charrette that welcomed experts, caregivers, and potential residents to illuminate the specific needs and requirements for a totally new concept in veteran housing. The vital information gathered at the initial and later sessions helped shape the design of the site and individual units for veterans who have suffered traumatic injuries.
“This New Orleans project is engineered to survive floods and doesn’t rely on the levees for that resiliency,” – Jury comment
Bastion Community’s overall design integrates veterans at multiple levels, from the houses and yards to the greater neighborhood and city. Each of the residential units consists of two attached dwellings that face another unit, creating an open court shared by four sets of neighbors. Each of these individual clusters connects to a larger, central courtyard that fosters an intentional community that can still maintain a relationship with the surrounding neighborhood. An on-site wellness center offers space for meetings that are open to everyone.
The development closely echoes the scale and rhythm of the surrounding neighborhood, with each detached building mimicking the adjacent single-family homes. This approach creates a visual density that identifies Bastion Community as a semi-private and semi-public realm. Rather than fence off each of the units, the team opted to craft a protected but open block that courts interactions among veterans and civilians alike.
Given the development’s location near New Orleans’ London Canal, where a levee failed during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, resiliency was a key driver for the project. During the storm, the larger neighborhood experienced severe flooding, and all of the buildings on the site of Bastion Community were subsequently razed. Piers were employed to raise the units, allowing stormwater to flow freely through the site. The team also embedded strategies for filtering, storing, and returning water to the soil.
“This New Orleans project is engineered to survive floods and doesn’t rely on the levees for that resiliency,” wrote the jury. “This is a quirky design that grows on you and provides a unique place for the community to inhabit. The project team has taken traditional materials and scales and modernized them. Returning to the vernacular for an underserved community is thoughtful and welcoming.”
Architect: Office of Jonathan Tate
Developer: Renaissance Property Group
Ceara O’Leary, AIA (Chair), Detroit Collaborative Design Center, Detroit, MI
Allison Anderson, FAIA, unabridged Architecture, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Kelly Beamon, METROPOLIS, New York, NY
Alex Salazar, AIA, Salazar Architect, Portland, Oregon
Roberta Washington, FAIA, Roberta Washington Architects, New York, NY