Safe shelter is critical not just for physical security but for restoring dignity and healing the effects of trauma. The Tacoma Housing Authority Crisis Residential Center is an emergency housing center which provides temporary housing for Tacoma’s youth who are experiencing crisis situations. Youth who need services at the Crisis Residential Center have often experienced intense or chronic trauma, food insecurity, and housing instability, resulting in malnutrition, lack of hygiene, and emotional disturbances. The CRC meets the immediate crisis needs of food, water and shelter, and then works to provide support services and long term housing solutions through reunification with family members, placement in foster care programs, or supportive independent living situations.
For youth who have experienced housing instability, it is essential to provide a sense of home that they have lost or may never have experienced. Trauma-informed design calls for the opportunity to interact with nature, enjoy private respite, and move freely, rather than the utilitarian and restrictive elements that often characterize institutional and commercial sites. The site’s flexible landscape design utilizes mostly native plants and common cultivars with therapeutic value which are affordable, drought-tolerant, and readily available. The planting plan balances the needs for privacy, respite, exposure to nature, gardening, and façade screening. A terraced lawn scheme allows for the future development of a basketball court and creates accessible, usable space without constructing retaining walls.
The design team provided architectural and landscape solutions to support the program and functions of the CRC by providing a calm, therapeutic place of respite to help the traumatized youth experience the feeling of safeness and an opportunity to heal from the moment they enter the center. The budget for the project is very constrained and the design team has worked creatively to develop design solutions that meet the client’s goals while providing the respectful, healing and safe place that every young person deserves.
The West Studio