[Disclaimer: This project is theoretical and was created as my comprehensive (thesis) project at the University of Oregon for my Bachlors of Interior Architecture in 2016]
Grays Harbor Safe Haven is a housing complex for children in the foster care system waiting to be placed in appropriate homes. Grays Harbor Safe Haven is a new interim housing complex for children of all ages in the foster care system waiting to be placed in appropriate, more permanent homes, with a focus on keeping sibling groups together. Grays Harbor Safe Haven addresses interim housing strategies, stress free environments, therapy and recreation spaces, and room typology and occupancy. Light color, and materials will play a large role in the planning of space to encourage a sense of safety, and physical and psychological wellbeing. It will provide a safe, stable place for children placed in the foster care system to meet their basic needs. Children that arrive at Grays Harbor Safe Haven have had traumatic experiences ranging from abuse, neglect, abandonment, or substance abuse, etc. which has caused them to be removed from their families. The goal of the housing component of Grays Harbor Safe Haven is to create a sense of permanence, safety, and security. This project addresses housing shortages and emergency placement housing for children in the foster care system, and keeping sibling groups together.
There is a wide range of ages that inhabit Grays Harbor Safe Haven. Infants, toddlers, children, and teens in placed in foster care waiting for a more permanent placement all live at Grays Harbor Safe Haven. They will come to Grays Harbor Safe Haven after they have been removed from their current situation that has been deemed unfit according to Child Protective Services. Live in social workers will facilitate and meet the needs of the children at Grays Harbor Safe Haven. They will have rotating shifts to avoid the common “burn out” that social workers experience. Volunteers will also help Grays Harbor Safe Haven facilities run. They will assist with the babies and toddler, play games with the kids, help with homework, and also help with overall maintenance of the facility. Gathering inventory of what the needs are for the kids currently in placement and organizing the storage area where all the supplies for the children are kept are also places where the volunteers help out.
Grays Harbor Safe Haven will provide housing and therapy spaces for children in the foster care system. Grays Harbor Safe Haven accommodates housing for up to 54 kids of all ages from 0-18 years and 20 live-in social workers. The evaluation of group home environments, family environments, and simulating “home” will be addressed. The room options at Grays Harbor Safe Haven are dependent on age groups and sibling placement. Based on state requirements there will be no more than 4 children in a room and genders will be separated even if they are siblings. There will be sibling suites, for siblings close in age to stay together.
The nursery will be for 0-2 year olds; tiny tot rooms are for 3-5 year olds, and the double and quad room for 6-18 year olds. These rooms will be further divided by gender and age brackets of 6-8, 9-12, 13-15, and 16-18. This provides options for siblings different in age and gender to still live in the same location and not be split up. Other activities that will occur at Grays Harbor Safe Haven include recreation activities after school, cooking and dining, tutoring, and participation in relaxing “home” environments. Warm colors are preferred in residential interiors that have association with comfort and homelike ambience (Reddy, 1074). Through these room types, Grays Harbor Safe Haven, will investigate group housing environments, student housing, the implications of color, lighting, acoustics, and materials in a place that encourages calming, safe environments and behaviors.
The therapy spaces at Grays Harbor Safe Haven will take the form of individual offices, quiet rooms, and group rooms. These spaces will provide moments for children to reflect and have quiet, calm time. The design and interior architectural application will assist these spaces. Dr. Julio Bermudez theorizes that the presence of “contemplative architecture” in one’s environment may over time produce the same health benefits as traditional “internally-induced” meditation, except with much less effort by the individual (Hoffmann).