Sustainable Empowerment and Educational Development (SEED) Village

Project Statement

  The Sustainable Empowerment and Educational Development (SEED) Center is a community center & work space that will serve the formerly unhoused residents of a tiny house village. Located in East Oakland, the village houses 26 underserved youth ages 18-25. We are working with the creators of the village — the nonprofit Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA) — to design, fully fund, and construct the SEED Center. The 1400 SF building will provide a communal space for YSA to facilitate diverse programming in service of residents and surrounding communities. This includes: case management, housing navigation, mental health interventions, art as therapy, job skills training, and more. The SEED Center project is built on the belief that creating physical space dedicated to these outcomes will facilitate a healthier and more connected community at the village and in East Oakland as a whole.

Design Approach

The design of the SEED Center draws directly on conversations with the youth about how their needs can be better met by the physical spaces they inhabit. Youth residents and staff alike have specifically mentioned the following as ongoing needs at the village:

1. Office Space for Staff & Partners for staff and partners to support the collaborative, holistic work needed to help youth find and sustain permanent housing

2. A Youth Workspace with amenities for studying, art, and career development

3. A Community Event Space to host jobs training, community events, and personal development workshops.

With its central community gathering/makerspace, the SEED Center will allow YSA to host the aforementioned programs and events. This space can also be used by residents on a daily basis to study, do work, and socialize. Smaller rooms surrounding the central area allow for retreat into a quieter, more private atmosphere where staff can perform casework or provide 1:1 counseling. 

Additionally, the project features a variety of sustainable design features that will minimize both its operational costs and environmental impact. These include passive features, such as strategic window placement, to minimize electricity use for temperature control and lighting. Furthermore, a rooftop solar array will provide for nearly all of the building’s electrical needs. 

The SEED Center will not only be a much-needed boon to YSA’s continuum of services, it will also deeply enrich the lives of the village youth. Perhaps most excitingly, the center will also serve as an anchor for plans to expand the village, potentially doubling its capacity in the coming years. 

SHAC is an interdisciplinary group of undergraduate and graduate students at UC Berkeley with a shared passion for sustainability in the built environment.

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