Advanced Design Studio: Aureli
Court subverts the lot division logic and reclaims the center of the city block as shared space, the courtyard. The scheme comprises groups of open-air courtyards, around which the housing units are organized. The court is a space that can be claimed by no one and thus belongs to everyone – the land becomes a gift yet again. For monks, the cloistered courtyard provided separation from the distractions of laymen and the life of the city outside. In similar fashion, the shared outdoor space of the Court expresses and defines the rituals of the residents living around it, endowing the complex with a sense of organization as a city within a city.
In Nordic kollektivhus models of communal living, a housing block was seen as a built manifestation of a particular life-form that the building’s residents shared – the ground floor was dedicated to activities defined by residents themselves, and living units were set on higher floors. In this manner, the ground floor spaces that enclose the Court reflect different residential groups’ forms-of-life: young families in one court transform them into a day care center and playground; artists in another convert them into studio and gallery spaces; tech workers and students in a third mold them into co-working hubs. Domesticism becomes an opportunity to construct a form-of-life where the boundaries between everyday life and shared rituals are eradicated.
In San Francisco, zoning laws dictate that ground floor functions in the Mission District and 16th Street area must house commercial activity. Thus the shared ground floor not only becomes the common ritual space of the Court’s residents but also links the project to the city outside via entrepreneurialism.
By employing the courtyard typology as a device to construct a city within a city, Court rejoins the political with the domestic space, intertwining individuals’ personal lives with the rituals of the community, and fostering a sense of socio-political and economic organization among residents in reference to San Francisco’s history as a locus of neighborhood activism.