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Washateria & Residence
Treme Neighborhood, New Orleans
New Orleans is a city rich in culture and pride. There is jazz music, Mardi Gras and endless culinary options. However, the mundane day-to-day lives of residents are often overlooked by tourists. Given its history as one of the earliest free people of color residential neighborhoods, Treme was, and is still, a cultural heart of the African American and Creole cultures, specifically of Mardi Gras Indians and Second Lines. This creates a culturally rich neighborhood that has suffered from economic inequity for generations. The blocks we have located our home on are surrounded by a mixed income housing complex that replaced an historic housing project, schools, a handful of restaurants, and the Carver Theater the ‘first American theater for colored patrons’. With this wealth of culture, there is also economic distress and inequity. In Orleans Parish, almost 24% of residents are considered persons in poverty and an overwhelming 50+% of New Orleanians are renters with two or more people sharing a space. These stats are no more clear than in neighborhoods like the historic Treme.
Historically, low income families commonly mixed living spaces with work spaces creating the common archetype of the ‘corner store’ still seen throughout the city. Even today this is a highly desired living arrangement. The strength of both the cultural and architectural impacts of this historic language led us to choose our site with commercial activities on the first floor with an angled entry facing the intersection. Another common building type in New Orleans is the camel back with a second floor living space tiered back off the front facade. Pulling inspiration from this, we have situated the majority of the residence on the second level, held back from the edge creating a patio area that can be private, while allowing the homeowners to engage with neighbors. Furthering this engagement, the ‘living room’ of the residence is shared with the commercial space allowing direct interaction with patrons.
Many neighbors are renters and the majority of rentable locations do not offer laundry facilities on site. Additionally, a significant number of New Orleanians use public transit or bikes to get to and from work. The proposed site has no washateria facilities within a mile and a half. The nearest tailor or mending shop is even further. This need led to the vision of the washateria with creative space in the back. This will allow the homeowners or other neighbors using the space to mend patrons' clothes and also gives the opportunity for local Mardi Gras Indians to create their elaborate suits, as seen in many of our renderings. The garage doors allow creators to spill out into the yard and neighborhood on the busy days leading up to Mardi Gras. This could easily be the gathering place for a Tribe to gather, a Big Chief to kick off their parade, and a lively family to establish a home.
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