8 SPRING 2020 | context | AIA Philadelphia
neighborhood – a neighborhood with a low life expectancy - the Collaborative recommended that they partner with New Kensington Community Development Corporation and Impact Services. These two community groups have been embedded in the Kensington community for many years. Working together, the partners’ goal was to use creative placemaking to engage with community members where they live to promote health and wellbeing. A volunteer team of design professionals from KieranTimberlake, Ballinger, and Cohere used information gathered through a pilot test of a rented trailer which enabled the partners to investigate different locations, programming, design elements, and layouts in the Kensington community. A group of Jefferson summer interns staffed the trailer and conducted a number of different activities ranging from blood pressure clinics to lemonade giveaways on hot, humid days. The interns made observations on weather
patterns, the average age of program attendees, and the needs and expectations of community members visiting the Airstream. Major takeaways from the testing period were the Airstream’s need for flexibility, wheelchair accessibility, and approachability. To address these needs, the designers proposed two gullwing “flip-ups” cut into one side of the trailer. In addition to accommodating non-ambulatory access, these gullwings help the Airstream balance privacy and a sense of welcome. The design team provided a blueprint for infrastructure modifications, interior fit-out, and branding. The completed outreach vehicle was officially unveiled at DesignPhiladelphia 2019. Its first activations have ranged from medical screenings for high blood pressure and HIV to family friendly activities such as storytime for kids and nutrition demonstrations for adults. The vehicle also exists to encourage conversations that lead to even bigger impact. One example is a new food access and education program titled Recipe For Health, which is a collaboration between Sunday Suppers, Esperanza Health Center, and the Jefferson Health Design Lab. This one-of-a-kind program takes families through 12 sessions where they enjoy a restaurant-style meal together, learn about nutrition, health, and cooking topics, and take home supplies so that they can recreate recipes on their own. For Jefferson and its partners, CoLab Philadelphia is just the beginning. This shiny trailer is a model for the type of communitycentered collaborations that can make our city healthier.
PHOTOS: THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY HEALTH DESIGN LAB
Can new creative partnerships build healthier communities and improve the well-being of Philadelphians? Philadelphia is one of the unhealthiest cities in the United States. One alarming statistic is the 20-year difference in life expectancy among Philadelphians. A Philadelphian who lives in the 19106 zip code can expect to live for 88 years. That number drops to 68 years in the 19132 zip code. Where you live has a profound impact on your health. Although Philadelphia is home to world class healthcare institutions, little progress has been made in improving health outcomes for our poorest neighborhoods. Bringing health programming beyond the walls of the hospital and into communities that need it most is the goal of CoLab Philadelphia. This unique collaboration has forged new connections among public and private sector groups, healthcare systems, community-based organizations and the design community. With seed funding from TD Charitable Foundation to purchase a vintage Airstream trailer, the Health Design Lab at Thomas Jefferson University came to the Community Design Collaborative for assistance. Jefferson sought a design to retrofit the trailer to accommodate a wide variety of programs and activities in neighborhoods across the city. Because Jefferson was interested in piloting CoLab Philadelphia in the Kensington
In this issue, we look at the practice of working together to achieve more than we can as individuals.