Rose Town is an inner-city neighborhood in Kingston, Jamaica, with a population of about 2,500. Identified by the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment as an area experiencing a transition, the community had been plagued by unemployment and political gang violence, with conflicts between the north and south portion of neighborhoods leading to the demolition of a zone of buildings in the town’s center, creating a neutral and uninhabited buffer. To address fundamental community development issues, and to create a masterplan for the reconstruction of the vacated area, the Foundation hired DPZ to hold a neighborhood planning charrette. Working with local stakeholders, including residents and town officials, the charrette team designed new housing types, created a neighborhood masterplan and generated other proposals to knit together the then-disjointed urban environment.
The charrette intended to demonstrate that blighted urban communities could be rehabilitated and residents’ standard of living improved through participatory planning processes. In addition, the charrette aimed to produce a series of physical plans and a palette of housing types to guide new development. The new housing types, designed to respond to the local climate, would enable residents to move from squatting to homeownership, and were planned to easily accommodate additions, with home expansion designed to be self-built and supported through community education programs in the building trades. To respond to the existing urban fabric, these housing typologies were primarily single-story, blending into the existing urban landscape and offering a stark contrast to the larger and socially isolating apartment block-style housing projects recently built in the area.
Along with housing types, the charrette team also produced a masterplan, plans for a new neighborhood center and an implementation plan. The master plan designates much of the former “demilitarized zone” as specifically-programmed public space, including a public square and playing fields for a nearby school and trades facility. These public facilities – to be paired with residential space offering safety through ‘eyes on the street’ – would offer a community gathering place for the neighborhood at large, including both north and south Rosetown. Infrastructure interventions also served to reconnect north and south by weaving existing streets into a cohesive fabric that serves as a drainage system, while preserving and enhancing existing buildings and social gathering spaces.
The charrette report also included an implementation plan listing action items and related agents, addressing issues of management and policy as well as architecture and building design.