Talia Saltzman, Stephanie Haller
Our product is a bench configuration that would be used in the center courtyard of Jane Addams place. This bench is made up of several modules that can be re-organized by residents to create unique spaces. It is a response to the issue of residents isolating themselves. If there is an open, welcoming environment that creates a feeling of community and acceptance, we are hoping residents will want to spend time with each other. It is also a useful tool in the context because the mothers can configure the furniture to watch their children play, while still engaging with each other. The mothers and children can also take part in the maintenance of the trees as a sign of growth that can be reflected upon their time at the shelter.
Our product promotes the key principles in the trauma-informed approach by creating a space that feels physically and psychologically safe. The location of the benches will be in the center courtyard. This is because we felt that the space had an enclosed, safe feeling and it could be a place that the mothers would feel comfortable interacting with one another while creating peer support. We recognize that an individual that has been through trauma may feel like power has been taken away from them and that is why this product can be manipulated and does not have a static use. This product promotes choice for the mothers and children the choice as to how they want to configure and control their spaces.
This product revolutionizes the shelter environment by allowing the residents to create and design their own space. This promotes a comfortable environment where the mothers can express themselves to those in their surroundings or where they can observe their children engaging with others and their choices. The goal is to make the mothers and children more comfortable in the shelter by allowing them to decide which spaces they experience both inside and beyond the shelter environment.
The wood can be easily accessed as sheets and studs at local stores and lumber yards. Then, the wood would need to be sanded and finished as either stained or painted to prevent blisters and to make the wood more comfortable for its user. The wood can be bounded and then the modules can be configured, which can then be mass produced as there are only four unit sizes (seat, armrest, storage, planter box). One potential organization that could assist with the build could include local American Institute of Architecture Students chapters, which are active at many of the local universities in Philadelphia.
Do the production costs decrease as the number of units produced increases?:
Space and Staffing Required:
The space of one unit is approximately, 3’ x 3’ x 4’- There would be minimal to no staffing required. The tree garden can be maintained by either staff or mothers, and the components (seat, armrest, storage, planter box) can be easily moved and connected by anyone utilizing them as they are mobile on their individual wheels.
Does your product require training of shelter staff to use appropriately?:
There will be little maintenance required for the product, other than potential wheel tightening and replacements. The wood may need to be treated if the product is left outside for a length of time, however, it is encouraged for the modules to be brought inside during inclement weather. This may require some funding, although not to a large degree. Funds could be raised by donations, bake sales etc.
This product could potentially be used in other shelter environments. It functions as a seat, typically used in a relaxation setting, perhaps in communal spaces. It can be easily manipulated to create a semi-circle, which may be used in activity or group spaces.
There are a few ways in which this multi-purpose bench and its impact can be measured. One, which could be from an observational perspective, is to see the mothers communicate with one another while utilizing the bench. This could make it a desirable space, especially during the summer months. It could also be used during group therapy sessions, where the mothers could share their emotions and their stories. If the children are using the space, there is hope that the mothers will be using it simultaneously which could create a large impact on strengthening the relationships between the mothers and their children. And lastly, if the tress are showing a sign of growth, both the mothers and the children will have something to reflect on during their time at the shelter.