Village Layout: orientation and proximity

From Option A, we continued to develop and refine the design using more precise dimensioning and site data.  The village is split into two areas because the community preferred to have larger lots per house (Option A) instead of keeping all the lots clustered into one area (Option B).  In the site analysis, we saw that the steep slopes and agriculture infrastructure restricted the layout growth in Area A.  In response we placed the additional lots along the existing road to the west, creating Area B.   Don’t worry though—it’s only a five minute walk between the two areas.

Option A-Still Winning Option A-Still Winning
Urban Plan showing Areas A and B Urban Plan showing Areas A and B
Area A Area A
Area B, North rotated Area B, North rotated
While the initial proposal showed the school and health clinic in close proximity to each other and the church to the north, the civic core eventual became dominated by the preschool and primary school buildings.  The civic shuffle-juggle (a technical term) came when our team (Global Studio and Agros) decided to use one of the existing house structures to the north of the village for the health post.  The change will help shorten the time between design and implementation and get the community access to medical care.  We also moved the proposed church from the north to the wide road running west of the schools, helping to reinforce and give more definition to the civic area.

The basic health blocks (BHB) placement along the road was informed by the House and Lot Priorities exercise conducted with the community.  It is a typical site strategy in Nicaragua.  Houses are typically right up against the road. During the exercises, reasons given for this were security, tradition and maximizing the patio in the rear of the lot.

Source: Typical housing arrangement along road in rural Nicaragua Source: Typical housing arrangement along road in rural Nicaragua
For the village though, we added a small twist.  Instead of placing the BHB’s right up to the road in typical fashion, we moved them back three meters to allow for an additional porch to come out front.  It is expected that the villagers will initially build fences along the borders of their lots to define their space and give physical definition to a sense of ownership.  The setback allows for a small social space as well as allows for future growth.

At the time we were drawing the master plan, we had no idea what the BHB’s would end up looking like.  We still had to look at many factors and collaborate with Agros on the best solution to implement.  Though the BHB’s eventually became more or less square, our master plan orientated their potentially non-square lengths along the North/South axis to help reduce sun exposure.  It just goes to show that while a master plan creates a strategy and guiding principal, there are so many compounding factors at play over long term growth that a 1:1 implementation is rare.

Also, if you look at our early blog post titled Design Foundation from wayyyy back on June 5th… shown here for convenience…

An initial pass at putting into CAD the village layout An initial pass at putting into CAD the village layout
You see that our initial village layout had the BHB’s feeling more separated and focused on defining blocks.  Our current layout now orientates the BHB’s towards each other along the road, giving the street more definition and reinforcing the sense of a close knit community.  We were happy to notice that it also more closely reflects the initial plans drawn up back in Nicaragua.  The same ones debated, voted and agreed upon by the community.

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