My thesis project proposes a type of migrant housing that shares programmatic elements and architectural infrastructure within a city. As I design a multipurpose residential and athletic complex, I consider the timing of crop harvest and the academic year to create opportunities for interaction throughout the year. The idea of this project comes from personal experience and the many relationships I made over the years with farmworkers who have temporarily lived in Michigan for the summer.
The agriculture sector in the United States has always been an important contributor to the economy and today depend mostly on migrant farmworkers. In some cases, growers are starting to rely on guest worker programs to employ temporarily year after year. As the number of migrant workers increases in Michigan, migrant workers are often overlooked and live in the poorest conditions in rural areas. This project considers the long history of agricultural workers in the United States and recognizes how migrant workers actively migrate season to season. Furthermore, the project reimagines a migrant lifestyle that situates them at the urban center where they share living units and other amenities with neighboring communities. By understanding the cyclical activities of a city and when crops are harvested, one typology of architecture can accommodate activities for different occupants.
The concept of my thesis project began by examining ideas presented by Michel de Certeau, a French theorist who was interested in understanding the social interactions between people and the built environment. De Certeau theorized that people interact with their surroundings in a tactical or strategic way. The lifestyle of migrant workers is like ideas presented by Certeau as their lifestyle is tactical and rely on seasonal work and established relationship.
What my time at KCAD meant to me
My interest in painting and drawing led me to pursue a career in design. In the fall of 2014, I joined the Industrial Design program where I had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua. My time in Nicaragua was memorable and like many other opportunities at KCAD, allowed me to meet and work with people I normally wouldn’t be able to interact with. I was challenged to think about how I could use design as a tool to explore potential solutions for everyday problems. I’ve been fortunate to continue learning and developing my design skills in the Master of Architecture program.