Building community Workshop (or bcWORKSHOP) uses collaborative design strategies to address housing crises in poverty-stricken Texas communities. The group seeks to improve the livability of communities through disaster reconstruction, smart infill, and green infrastructure programs.
Founded in 2005 by Brent Brown, bcWORKSHOP has undertaken multiple initiatives throughout Texas, focusing on neighborhoods and residents who are traditionally denied access to the professional design community.
bcWORKSHOP first drew widespread acclaim for its RAPIDO housing program. The program is an intense integration of community outreach, case-management, housing design, construction and resource deployment. The program is founded on a deep collaboration with residents trying to rebuild after disaster – drawing them into the design process at the very beginning and keeping them involved through the entirety of the design and construction process. The program has since been exhibited internationally, including at the world UN Habitat conference.
At a more intimate scale, the Congo Street Initiative was a resident-led revitalization effort in the Jubilee Park neighborhood of East Dallas. It rehabilitated five single-family homes on a small, neglected street and added green infrastructure to make the neighborhood more resilient to flooding and lower residents’ energy bills. The central concept was to improve the living conditions of the families, preventing their eviction and keeping the community together. This sort of social resilience actually functions as a form of disaster resilience, letting bcWORKSHOP work at both ends of the scale.
bcWORKSHOP’s diverse programs have all been unified by a commitment to building community. They each begin with an acknowledgement that the social structure of a community is the best guide to designing and building the physical structure of that same community.
We had a chance to speak with Brent about the origins of bcWORKSHOP and the evolution of their process on May 18, 2017. Have a listen.