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Future of Hawaiʻi’s Housing project.

A project aimed at informing the future development and redevelopment of housing projects in Hawaiʻi, was the recipient of the 2022 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Collaborative Practice Award. More than 50 University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Architecture students and recent graduates participated in the Future of Hawaiʻi’s Housing project as paid research assistants or through studio coursework.

The research was rooted in conversations with 30 families on five Hawaiian islands. Researchers also surveyed half-mile samples of land from urban to rural regions, analyzed local and global case studies, met with topic experts and shared outcomes in public forums. A framework for holistic housing was developed in 2019 and revisited in 2020 through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Brian Strawn

The project was conducted for the Hawaii Public Housing Authority (HPHA) via the UH Community Design Center by principal investigators Karla Sierralta and Brian Strawn. The team included faculty, researchers and students who worked alongside the state agency in partnership with both local and national topic experts.

“Our team was honored to receive this national recognition which celebrates innovative and sustained initiatives that extend design education beyond the classroom and into communities,” said Sierralta and Strawn.

The resulting Holistic Housing Toolkit aims to provide a basis for a more inclusive design process and forward-thinking designs for walkable, sustainable and equitable housing in Hawaiʻi. These and other related collaborations are publicly available via the Hawaiʻi Housing Lab digital platform.

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Karla Sierralta

The project exemplifies the successful integration of faculty research and student learning focused on a critical issue in Hawaiʻi. The award also recognizes collaborations in which “faculty, students and neighborhood citizens are valued equally, and that aim to address issues of social injustice through design.”

The team expressed the project would not have been possible without all of the participants and Hakim Ounsafi, the executive director at HPHA.

This award is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF) and Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.