Divine House Cooperative
2014-2016. The house I lived in was a cooperative: 20 of us shared a single household and the responsibilities for managing and growing as a residential community. After moving into the house, I conducted both formal and informal research on the challenges I and my housemates faced in operating as a household and as a communal group. In conversation and co-development with them, I developed procedural and physical responses to help address challenges in membership recruitment, accountability to house commitments, mutual support, compost management, group meals, budgeting, bedbug control, landlord relations, storage and workspace needs.
Pictured here are a selection of these projects.
Cook/Clean Sign-up Calendar
The calendar through which we sign up for our two regular cook and clean shifts used to be a page from a spreadsheet printed every five weeks and taped to the wall. It was hard to read and harder to tell whether everyone was participating—an empty dinner table was often the only way to note a gap in participation. I designed a more visual calendar that balances more clarity and accountability with celebration of housemates (whose beautiful portraits are featured in the magnetic photo frames during their birthdays or special occasions). When a housemate has signed up for their shifts in a given cycle, they flip over the magnets beside their name label from red to green (the name label is itself a whiteboard magnet, to accommodate a shifting house population). The vibrant visual indicator helps remind housemates to sign up and makes them more accountable to the rest of the house.
The dining table we shared sat 10 people at an absolute maximum—half the residents of the house. Housemates were eating in shifts or in separate rooms and were wary of bringing friends to dinner for fear of crowding. I surveyed the space and the different needs and constraints for the table—meetings, meals, projects, parties, daily clean-up—and proposed some options for a new, custom table. Since the proposal was for a much larger table than before, I made a paper prototype and placed it on the ground for housemates to maneuver around and weigh in on. The final design we developed—built by a carpenter friend—can be separated into two halves to add additional table space, and easily bolted back together. The inside legs of both halves are inset so as to allow comfortable seating at either of the short ends.