The Cloister is a strategy that operates within existing residential blocks of Newark to unify fragmented and independent properties through creating a common space for creative workers. It capitalizes on the latent potential of existing infrastructure through three housing typologies – the single family house, the townhouse and the multi-family housing project – and brings out a common architectural language from the generic-ness of Newark.
Newark’s landscape reflects a rash production of infrastructure initially aimed to remedy industrial decline, housing crises, social instability, white flight and the ever-growing “need” to connect Newark with the immediate and global trade networks in order to strengthen its economy. In reality these projects divided the city, making visual and physical barriers, thus actively preventing the neighborhoods from being active participants in society or experiencing public spaces. Thus, we are capitalizing on a different type of producing, a space for immaterial production to occur by turning highly programmed rooms into flexible spaces to be used for production and collaboration amongst the creative class.
The strategy operates on two scales: on the unit scale, interior space designed for nuclear family is reorganized to become flexible space for creative workers; on the urban scale, a common space, mainly a stoa, is created to connect each room. The flexible space, which constitutes the basic unit of co-habitation, offers all necessities that an individual needs to be alone: a sleeping area, an eating area, a working area, a storage area and etc. The stoa, which refers to the ancient Greek covered walkways, is a space of encounter and negotiation whose governance is placed in the hands of residents.