Interweaving Culture

Shared Spaces – Interweaving Culture is a collaborative educational center that challenges current and future interior designers to design with the goal of removing boundaries within cultures and encouraging integration among communities for refugees in the San Diego area. San Diego is home to a large population of refugees from countries such as Iraq, Somalia, and Burma according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (Country of San Diego 2011 Refugee Fact Sheet, 2013). Interweaving Culture enables designers and interior design students to produce spaces in such a way as to help create safe and comfortable environments. These environments create a sense of community and provide a connection to the community for refugees in their new surroundings. The high number of refugees and associated cultures is truly the inspiration behind the design. The floor layouts are based on centralized city plans often found in architectural history of ancient Africa and Asia. The design includes elements from various cultures interwoven within the local context. These elements consist of many adaptable, natural, and reusable materials. The cultural influences embedded in the design helps dissolve barriers between the local residents, current and future interior designers, and refugees, furthering the ease of transitioning into a new environment. Interweaving Culture also expands vertical learning as a circular learning process. Circular learning encourages all stakeholders to continually learn from one another providing a constant, cyclical flow of knowledge and new multicultural experiences.

Nestled in downtown San Diego, Interweaving Culture is perfectly positioned for community outreach, service learning projects, and providing greater access to design services. In 2011, San Diego had the highest refugee influx in California (Country of San Diego 2011 Refugee Fact Sheet, 2013). Country attributes included in the design of the space include Iraq, Somalia, and Burma. Developing Interweaving Culture in San Diego helps this widespread refugee population integrate with their new environment. To accomplish this, Interweaving Culture partners with the NewSchool of Architecture and Design and local design professionals. Refugees in San Diego need safe, comfortable housing, education and employment opportunities, and community support and integration. The current and future interior designers address these issues by designing spaces that encourage the removal of cultural boundaries, the creation of new multicultural experiences, and assimilation in the new community. Interweaving Culture works to develop a sense of a unified multicultural community through the spaces designed by working with the local International Refugee Committee (IRC). Partnering with the IRC provides further knowledge of the refugees’ changing needs, as well as, extends the community outreach made possible through Interweaving Culture.


This group project has been selected as one of 3 out of 24 projects to enter into IDEC national student competition.

Project Details
County of San Diego Government. (2013, January 2). Country of San Diego 2011 Refugee Fact Sheet. Retrieved from
Lee, J. (2012, July 27). Tourism Up 75% in Kurdistan. Retrieved from
Baksh, S. (2012, October 17). 34 Aerial Photos from Around the World in 2012. Retrieved from from-around-the-world-in-2012/#1
Pagetti, F. (2008, October 27). Iraq: Return to Life. Retrieved September from
The Somali Bantu Experience: From East Africa to Maine (n.d.). Retrieved from
Interior of a Traditional House in the Village of Holoung, Shan State, Myanmar / Burma (2011, April 14). Retrieved from
Caraher, M. (2013, October 23). Somali Art Museum Opens in Minneapolis. Retrieved from art-museum-opens-in-minneapolis/