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Blooming Ivy

Helen Cheung

From nomads to capsule hotels, we have always been trying to find different modes of living and different domestic lifestyles. People lived in extended families in the past, gradually transitioning into living as nuclear families. Recently, the new way of living in a collective group as individuals in share- houses rises alongside the exponential population rise.

Then is there actually an answer as to what types of social groups designers should be aiming to design for?

This led to an investigation into the design of council housings. What is noticed in the plans of the different typologies is like many other housings, the interior organisation is designed based on the organisation of a nuclear family. For example, the four person unit only has three rooms; one double bedroom for the parents and two more single bedrooms, possibly for the children. What is peculiar about this organisation is that this might not apply exactly to other types of families, one of which is the single-parent family, although it might consist of space for four persons, the interior division would not be applicable for one mother and three children having only three rooms…

A lot of single mothers in the UK are rejected from social housing applications, hence ending up in a shelter of poor condition or even becoming homeless. Apart from housing and economic difficulties, single mother families also encounter a number of issues, such as having a lack of time to simultaneously work, earn for a living and take care of their children. Studies have also shown how single mothers are more prone to receive stress from neighbours, which is one of the many factors of being the worst type of family in children’s diabetic control.

Southwark, a borough in central London, is encountering a series of socio-economic problems with a number of single mother families. The number of females in need of economic support is extremely high compared to London and England,where also high numbers of unpaid childcare is being offered. Furthermore, it was noted that the obesity rates in Southwark are somewhat highest in the country, with half of such population being children. Most importantly, the lack of affordable housing which only constitutes five percent heightens the social disparity.

So the question is, how can single mothers benefit from having a redefined domestic lifestyle?

Blooming Ivy is a residential tower that makes use of spatial characteristics to maximise opportunities for people to come together as a collective, promote use of public space for physical activities to tackle health related implications and redefine the way people are divided spatially, breaking the traditional boundaries. Made up of discrete modules, the skyscraper aims to minimise the sense of hierarchy, overthrowing existing social culture on land. Just like an ivy, the aggregation of modules grows on the perimeter of an existing building, negating economic problems regarding land and ownership. The tower is a self supportive system where single mother families mutually support one another, eventually blooming in the sky.

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