Technocraft: Community Fabrication in Rainier Beach
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The shift toward personal digital fabrication is rooted in access and technology. As access has grown, a movement has formed using digital fabrication technologies to "hack" or modify mass produced goods, which has united people through a fundamental belief in open source information sharing and a global support network. Defining "hacking" as an interface with an existing network, this thesis takes an analytical approach to determine where access to and education of personal digital fabrication technologies will have the greatest impact. Seeking points of intervention, the focus of the project was to evaluate potential sites using a number of criteria: access, education, economy and community. Given the constraints, a site was decided upon in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. Viewing access on the city scale as a physical and infrastructural issue, proximity to a light rail station is an important consideration. Educationally, there is a concentration of technology-based programs aimed at residents in South Seattle, but few of them address the important connection to the physical world. Within existing programs, digital fabrication will act as the physical manifestation of digital principles. Economically, the city has recently upzoned parcels adjacent to light rail stations and along MLK, and the new connection to downtown has made the neighborhood more desirable to commuters. However, budgetary constraints have delayed many transit oriented development projects and rising commercial costs have left a surplus of vacant buildings and empty lots. Despite the rich cultural diversity of Rainier Beach, the neighborhood lacks a strong community core. Physically divided by the linear infrastructures of light rail and high voltage towers, the area has an indiscernible character that is enhanced by its location between industrial spaces to the south and suburban development to the north. This thesis proposes a new center for technology in craft in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. The goal is to provide an alternative to the ubiquitous three-over-one mixed-use development that would fit comfortably within the city's urban plan. Accepting the potential value of the site in a better economic climate, the proposal will have a temporal nature and be designed for disassembly with minimal site impact. Given the nature of such a facility, as well as the DIY culture that it caters to, flexibility is an important consideration within the design. The goal of the project is not to invent a new modular building system, but to create a network that allows for expansion as the institution grows or mobility as the context demands.
- Architecture