From Puerto Rico to the South Bronx, the casita, or “little house” in Spanish, is the social centerpiece and focal point of many community gardens. New York Restoration Project (NYRP), in partnership with the Urban Air Foundation, enlisted TEN Arquitectos and engineers at Buro Happold to rethink the traditional casita as a modular kit of parts. NYRP staff will work with members of the Willis Avenue Community Garden in Mott Haven, Bronx, to assemble the pilot structure in their garden in Spring 2014.
The design of the casita incorporates resilient elements such as photovoltaic panels, rainwater management systems, and Wi-Fi, ensuring that the casita will function off the grid both on a daily basis and in the event of another citywide disaster like Sandy. As a community-based design-build effort, the casita will also foster social resilience, serving as a refuge, resource, and venue for social interaction and community events. Looking ahead, the flexible kit of parts can be adapted and built at NYRP’s other community gardens across the five boroughs. Plans, sketches, renderings, and images of TEN Arquitectos’ design will be on view at the Bronx Museum to continue the dialogue surrounding community-based design and resilient architecture.