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Small Scale Designs Yet Big Changes for Casa Familiar

Created: 10 June, 2011
Updated: 13 September, 2023
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5 min read

MoMita is the child of a larger exhibit “Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement” presented at the MoMA

    You’ve heard of MoMA, New York’s Museum of Modern Art but you probably haven’t heard of MoMita, Casa Familiar’s newest housing project translated into an exhibition at the facility’s The Front located in San Ysidro.

    The show features two progressive architectural designs: “Living Rooms at the Border” or “El Salon” and “Senior Housing with Childcare” also called “Los Abuelitos”. Both are one of eleven projects selected Worldwide as exemplary for there social engaging designs procuring alternative housing density and affordability in undeserved communities. This project in particular also carries awards for being one of the most sustainable living proposals.

    MoMita is the child of a larger exhibit “Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement” presented at the MoMA last October through January of this year. The main exhibit included other proposed projects for places like Bangladesh, Paris, Chile, Rio de Janeiro and South Africa amongst others. The project for Casa Familiar was designed over a ten-year span by Architects David Flores and Estudio Teddy Cruz, owned and operated by Teddy Cruz, also a professor in the Visual Arts Department at UCSD.

    In talking with David Flores during a special tour, he expressed “the way we see humans isn’t only measured by the problems they bring along, we see a bigger picture. We see a person in need of the arts, education and a safe place to live.” This is exactly what they will accomplish in providing once the projects are put to ground. Flores is excited to see the construction through, during the walkthrough of the “El Salon” showcase, his eyes lit up every time he moved over from describing one of the settings to the next.

    After all, this isn’t the first time a designed project he works on for Casa Familiar gets ready to come to life. In 1998, he saw “Las Florecitas” the first first-time homeownership project realized. If all goes as envisioned “El Salon” will be just a block south of “Las Florecitas” and “Los Abuelitos” just 400 feet over.

    Each of the two complexes will have a personality of their own. “El Salon” aims to enrich families by offering a stimulating array of artistic opportunities. It will include twelve affordable housing units. The church that now sits on the property, the first to be built in San Ysidro back in 1927, will be turned into a community center where residents will have the option to create on their own or through an alliance with UCSD students and professors willing to share their insight through workshops at the center. The church’s attic will serve as Casa Familiar’s offices. A minimalist designed garden will be the connecting element between the units and the center, also serving as a community link to public events.

    “Los Abuelitos” will bring two generations together under one roof. This project is specifically for Grandparents whose grandchildren are under their full custody. “With ‘Los Abuelitos’ we keep the same idea of service integration as with ‘El Salón” explained Flores. “During community forums held at Casa Familiar, one of the most resonant needs came to light from seniors whose sons and daughters were away in prison, ill, working all the time, or gone for good leaving their children behind with the grandparents who live in studios or small one-bedroom apartments and can’t afford to rent a larger apartment to live in better conditions with the grandchild” shared Leticia Gómez who has been working at Casa Familiar for the past five years. The 13-unit project seeks to give those grandparents that opportunity, it not only offers affordable housing it also comes with a daycare facility and will be built with easy access for both senior and child.

    Solar panels make the project energy efficient which in turn also helps keep costs down. The projects are still undergoing certain city permits but should begin construction by 2012. Casa Familiar is one of the first local non-profit organizations making a strong effort to shift cultural demographics caused by immigration within many mid-city neighborhoods and whose primary goal is to aid families not simply through affordable housing but by creating social engagement within those housing projects.

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    MoMita will be at Casa familiar’s The Front through July 31, 20011. If you’re interested in exploring the rest of the projects in they are: Primary School, Gando, Burkina Faso (Diébédo Francis Kéré, 1999–2001); Quinta Monroy Housing, Iquique, Chile (Elemental, 2003–05); Red Location Museum of Struggle, Port Elizabeth, South Africa (Noero Wolff Architects, 1998–2005); METI – Handmade School, Rudrapur, Bangladesh (Anna Heringer, 2004–06); Inner-City Arts, Los Angeles, California (Michael Maltzan Architecture, 1993–2008); Housing for the Fishermen, Tyre, Lebanon (Hashim Sarkis A.L.U.D., 1998–2008); $20K House VIII (Dave’s House), Hale County, Alabama (Rural Studio, 2009); Metro Cable, Caracas, Venezuela (Urban Think Tank, 2007–10); Manguinhos Complex, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Jorge Mario Jáuregui, 2005–10); Transformation of Tour Bois le Prêtre, Paris, France (Frédéric Druot, Anne Lacaton, and Jean Philippe Vassal, 2006–11); and Casa Familiar: Living Rooms at the Border and Senior Housing with Childcare in San Ysidro, California (Estudio Teddy Cruz, 2001–present).

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