Aaron Neal is an architectural designer and educator based in Chicago, Illinois.




Email - aneal1@saic.edu
Instagram - @anealarch

YEAR: 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Michael Grugl & Liliane Wong

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In recent months, groups of migrants have gathered near the U.S. border walls for days or weeks at a time in hopes of a new beginning. They have journeyed far from their own country, leaving everything behind. These are some of the future users of our designs for these family shelters. As asylum seekers, they have few rights as they wait for their case to be heard. They have no citizenship and are unable to work legally. Using the principles of trauma informed design, this project focuses on the dignity of having some private space with its own front door.

Open Doors creates individual units spread over a campus centered around shared facilities for developing communities. The intervention utilizes the two host structures as shell interventions and the last host structure as a shell plus an addition intervention by treating each parcel separately. The shell intervention accommodates new activity and programs within the existing structure by moving the existing stairs to the exterior. The shell and addition intervention will bring the existing structure back to a whole state through the introduction of exterior stairs and an extension into the landscape. As structures sited in steeply sloping ground, my first intervention is a regarding that will allow for direct access to the site from the street. Accessible routes allow for the addition of ten accessible units on the ground floor, and eliminate safety concerns for falling off the previous existing site edge.

Trauma informed design is intended to support individuals, specifically children, who have experienced trauma by providing a space where all feel safe, secure, community, control, and dignity. Relocating the stairs to the exterior of the building achieves more efficient and comfortable living space. Individuals achieve
dignity in having private space with its own front door.

Visual and physical connections to outdoor courtyards allow residents of the community to have the ability to choose a space of their own, which serves as an extension of their temporary home. Access to the outdoors serves as an area of interaction throughout the campus. The interactions create a sense of community and begin the indirect healing process.

all images and content © Aaron Neal 2024