New Orleans, LA
The founders of Raphael Village had acquired an uniquely shaped lot in a historic district in New Orleans with the goal of creating a facility where differently-abled young adults (Guild Members) will receive continued academic, vocational and arts training while being an integral part of a supportive, life-sharing community. Their vision was for a facility that was uplifting and inspiring, rather than cold and institutional.
Our approach was to divide the functions of the facility into three smaller buildings, connected by open courtyard spaces, to break down the scale of the facility to be more intimate & relatable to the Guild Members and fit into the rhythm of the historic streetscape.
The community café, with its front porch on Jackson Avenue, serves breakfast and lunch to the public and also acts as a teaching center, catering kitchen and gathering space. The training/vocational buildings are arranged around the main courtyard with roll up doors to allow the spaces toped up to the courtyard, and provide services for continued life skills to promote greater independence, furthering employment opportunities and self-sufficiency. The administrative area services the various functions of the facility. There is also ample green space for group activities, socializing, teaching, and a vegetable garden for the cafe.
Currently, Guild members volunteer at Whole Foods, the LASPCA Westbank, Midway Pizza and other businesses on a weekly basis, where they practice job skills in a real world setting. The goal is to expand on this successful integration of their members into the surrounding community.