This project aims to reimagine freedom of expression, belonging and support for Black and Latinx queer people through the lens of ball and kiki culture. The ball scene has long been a haven for those who have been rejected by their families and society, with origins dating back to the Harlem Renaissance. This project’s intervention would inhabit an existing former theater on 146th and Broadway to create a new, dynamic typology of queer care and expression that does not currently coexist in an individual, permanent space.

Among arched and circular geometries, curtains operate as the main device for program enclosure and their tracks serve as an infrastructural system that facilitates movement and collaboration. When curtains are pulled closed, programs revolving around queer care consist of voguing dance studios, sex education, healthcare services, mentorship and counseling, and quiet, personal spaces. When the curtains are opened, the interior transforms into a broader gathering space for kikis and balls.

Moments of porosity and added circulation created within the existing structure link the internal programming to neighboring spaces and community. A careful balance between visibility and safety is crucial, however, in designing this space when considering the historical and current social contexts of these particular networks of kinship.

Program  |  Community Center [Adaptive Reuse]
|  Hamilton Heights, West Harlem, NYC
Date  |  Fall 2021, GSAPP Core I Studio

Critic  |  Alessandro Orsini, Architensions

1’=1/4” scene models

   1:1 fragment model (3’x7’)


© 2024 Kelvin Cho-Wen Lee